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Record crowd gathered at Herb Farm for stories

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Just like the previous three years, the Fourth Annual Madison County Florida Storytelling Tellabration!TM storytelling festival took place in Madison, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  A record crowd of listeners, a beautiful day, stellar tellers - young and old, and unforgettable stories all converged on O’Toole’s Herb Farm. The school bell rang prior to the start of each hour signaling the next hour of stories. Eager listeners gathered under the big tent and hunkered down to be not just entertained, but also inspired, and taken to lands, near and far away, via the magic carpet of stories.

“Loved each [storyteller]. Can't wait for next year. Thank you all.” said Inda Tinney.

Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo by Emerald G. Parsons, November 18, 2017
Joy Hartsfield (far right), the great-niece of one of the past mayors of Atlanta, Ga., was present during Madison’s Tellebration. Her uncle was instrumental in getting the Atlanta airport off the ground and also in getting the premier of “Gone With The Wind” to be filmed in Atlanta (instead of New York). Pictured, left to right, are: Myra Valentine, Ina Thompson, and Joy Hartsfield as they hold the hat that her great-uncle continuously wore during his campaign for mayor of Atlanta.

With the first hour being sponsored by Genesis Timber, South Carolina storyteller John Thomas Fowler entertained with a variety of music on an array of instruments that kept all there engaged in his stories from the hills of Appalachia.

Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo by Emerald G. Parsons, November 18, 2017
The annual Tellebration event is an affair for families to enjoy together. Pictured here, enjoying good stories and lots of laughs are: (back row, left to right): Addison French and Carson French. In the front row, from left to right are: Missy French and Sheri Hollingsworth.

Then three youth tellers took the stage, impressing everyone with their talents. Daisy Henderson from Lee Elementary, Deanna Bell from Greenville Elementary, and Aden Angeles from Pinetta Elementary all proved that they had what it takes to not only write a story, but also to stand up and tell it.

Beggs Funeral Home sponsored the second hour which was called the Jacksonville Hour, because the two adult tellers, Holly Bebernitz and Bruce Musser (Madison’s son), were both from the River City, Jacksonville. Holly’s telling of a James Thurber story brought many bouts of laughter to all. Bruce’s tale about one of his family’s matriarchs found a way to totally surprise the listeners.

During that hour, five youth tellers regaled the audience with a variety of stories. They included Darius Payne of Greenville Elementary, Leanna Kinsey and Lexie Reyna of New Testament Christian, and Katie Krell and Logan Hart of Madison Creative Arts Academy.

The noon hour was sponsored by Lynette Sirmon of All Realty Services and was hosted by Pat Nease. Listeners were invited to become tellers by presenting a five-minute story on the stage. These eager volunteers gave an hour full of delightful stories of fiction and reality.

J & J Strong sponsored the 1 p.m. hour which was started with a story from Jim Glaser remembering his friend, TC Hudson, followed by Pat Nease’s hilarious tale of financial farming fun. The youth tellers included Ivy Lee and Riley Browning from Madison Creative Arts Academy, and Yanet Serrano from Madison County Central School.

“Thank you for all your hard work and dedication! You are much appreciated by many,” said Carol Gibson.

The hour closed with stories of heritage and heart covering varying opinions about dates in family histories and the struggles of getting out of the court house from Madison’s own retired judge, Wetzel Blair and retired county clerk, Tim Sanders.

Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo by Emerald G. Parsons, November 18, 2017
Joe Boyles was one of the Tellabration speakers and spoke of Carol Agner and his fighting in D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, in 1944.

At 2 p.m. Darren Webb welcomed the listeners on behalf of the sponsor for that hour, Madison County Community Bank. That hour included more songs, music, and stories from John Thomas Fowler and stories from Joe Boyles and Wanda Violet. Joe’s story remembered a native son’s part in service to his country, and Wanda’s story recounted the robotic destruction of her husband’s garden.

“Excellent,”  quoted Jim Catron.

The youth group from Madison Church of God provided a delicious pulled pork lunch, drinks, and coffee for the attendees keeping everyone nourished for more storytelling fun.

Volunteers helped in all aspects of producing the 4th annual event: John Ludwick, Lisa Leery, Ashley Hollingsworth, Kara Washington, Marcus Roell, Wally Davis, Caleb Green, Joseph Green, Garrett Hammond, Matthew Green, Joey Green, Seth Hollingsworth, and many more. A special thank you goes to Betty Williams, Stuart Fenneman, and the Madison Woman’s Club. Of course, Betty Fraleigh O’Toole’s farm for the location, which was a tremendous gift. Many other folks and businesses gave generously to help support the event. “We are grateful for all of them,” said Glaser.

“It was a great day. That was a lot of work, I realize. So glad to support this. Great job!!” said Betty Curtis.

Producers Wanda Violet and James Glaser were thrilled with all the listeners who came out, the variety and quality of the tellers, and the spirit of the community that was clearly demonstrated at the event.

“Mark your calendars for the 5th Tellabration!TM next year,”said Violet, “for the Saturday before Thanksgiving!”

For more information and for the latest in storytelling in Madison County, visit their Facebook page and their website at  You can also email Wanda and Jim at

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