Here they come! Registration was busy and excitement was high on Friday morning at the Falcon Center at Fairmont State University.
What was it all about?
This weekend was the first Mountain State Storytelling Institute, and it was amazing. The planning by the Fairmont State University staff and students, and the efforts of WV Storytelling Guild member Jo Ann Dadisman produced an event that was nearly flawless in presentation.
The theme of the institute was Transmitting Culture, Transforming Lives. With Joseph Sobol and Bil Lepp as keynotes, the theme was explored through the context of the storytelling revival and the present interpretation of stories and storytelling by today's tellers, audiences and scholars.
Workshops ranged from crafting the lie to exploring Jack Tales, introduction to ballads, digital storytelling, storytelling games, African-American storytelling, and more. I presented my ballad workshop for the first time--the first session went well but I could see changes I could make to improve it. So the second session felt more satisfying to me--we'll see what the participants thought when the evaluations are tabulated.
One of the best parts of the Institute was being able to network with other storytellers. Joyce Geary and Kevin Cordi from Columbus, Gail Herman from Maryland, and guild members from around the state were all there. Donna Wilson from over the river (Ohio) rode with me and we talked story the whole way up and back. There is nothing like being with other tellers, and I realized how much I have missed by not going to conferences the past few years.
Attendance at this first-time event exceeded 100 and was composed of college students from WVU and Fairmont, teachers, librarians, storytellers, Toastmasters a few writers and a few just plain curious people.
Another first for us was publication of a collection of stories by WV Storytelling Guild members. Profiles of all contributors were included. The WV State Parks bought an ad in the book, and we were able to recoup the rest of our publishing expenses through sales during the Institute. Awesome!
Sales of presenters' materials were also brisk. Over half of the materials I brought to sell were sold. That was a nice plus.
I hope the Institute is offered again. There is much more to be explored, particularly in the Appalachian regional culture, both past and present. I left feeling that I want more; the Institute spoke to the heart of storytelling in this region, and I didn't want to leave.
Pictures from the top: Early Friday morning in the registration area; Donna Wilson taing care of the WVSG table; Bil Lepp preparing to give his keynote on Saturday morning; me at the start of my second ballad workshop (Granny, what gray hair you have!); Jason Burns (WVSG webmaster) and storyteller Ilene Evans; former coal miner-tirned storyteller Fred Powers and John Mullins, a guild member and contributor to our book).