Mickey Starling: Greene Publishing, Inc.
The men of ancient Athens would be so proud. Storytelling and debate were a major source of entertainment for them, and the recent revival of this lost art would make a guy like Socrates beam with excitement. Local artists of the trade, Wanda Violet, and Jim Glaser, are already making plans for the next exciting Tellebration event to be held in Madison on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the farm of Wally Davis, located on Rocky Ford Rd.
Violet happened upon a professional storyteller in 2010 and was hooked almost immediately. Violet began inquiring about how to become more involved, when she was referred to Pat Nease, a professional storyteller residing in Panama City. Nease took Violet to two storytelling festivals to immerse her in the environment and give her a better understanding of what it is all about. One of those events was the National Storytelling Festival, in Jonesborough, Tn., which has exploded in popularity in recent years. This festival began in 1973, with 30 people gathering around an old farm wagon to hear a few Appalachian tales. It is now host to 18,000 people who are eager to share and hear fascinating stories of all varieties.
Storytelling is an adventure without rules, except for keeping the material family-friendly. Stories may be true, dramatic interpretations of literature, fiction, or anything one may imagine that can be weaved into a yarn worth telling. "The stories are as varied as the people who tell them," said Violet. Violet became so adept at the art that she won first place at the National Storytelling Festival, hosted by the International Storytelling Center, in Jonesborough. "These festivals have such a great family atmosphere of support," said Violet. Schools, businesses, and other venues are also tapping into storytelling to educate and entertain students and employees.
The Madison Tellebration is entering its fifth year, with attendance growing annually. In 2014, the event drew a crowd of 75, while last year's storytelling boasted 320 in attendance. Children are getting in on the act as well, with nine kids participating on stage last year. Offstage, 90 kids submitted written stories last year and some of those received scholarships from the Florida Storytelling Association (FSA).
On Saturday, April 14, both Violet and Glaser received awards from the FSA. Glaser was named Ambassador of Storytelling, and Violet received the Chuck Larkin Distinguished Service Award. "Like many of us, this recipient found storytelling a little later in life, but when she found it, she embraced it with a passion. She immediately saw its educational, community building, and entertainment value.
With that in mind, she and her husband have held four Tellebrations in the small town of Madison, each one bigger and better than the one before," said Robin Schulte, president of the FSA.
"Beside every great woman is a great man, and Jim Glaser has worked hand in hand with Wanda to bring this remarkable storytelling vision to life. What began as an afternoon of storytelling in a charming shed, has grown to a festival that features nationally recognized storytellers, and attracts listeners from across the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and beyond."