It was the 12th annual West Virginia Storytelling Festival, and each year, it gets smaller. The festival is organized by Jackson's Mill Conference Center in Weston, WV. In the beginning a hardy bunch of volunteers ran the festival, and it was growing slowly but surely for the first 8 years. That group had to pull out for various reasons, and now the festival is a remnant of what it once was.
The festival was moved from a weekend event to mid-week and the focus shifted from an all-ages festival to one for school age children. While the former festival also serviced school children during the day on Thursdays and Fridays, there were evening workshops, performances and ghost stories for adults and family audiences.
The schools bring children by the busloads, and the storytellers tell for groups of 200 and up during the day. Although numbers were down again this year (probably due to gas prices and funding issues), the children were wonderful listeners--they sang, clapped, participated in every way they were asked, and their bright faces were a joy to see as they sank into the stories with us.
I like the school days very much, but I miss the other events, the swapping tent, and the pleasure of meeting people who would travel to our festival in the past.
Perhaps one day it will be a true festival again. Or perhaps we will have to develop a new event to meet those goals. Whatever the future might hold, it was wonderful to be there once again with storytellers, teachers and children, sharing good stories.