We started early Friday morning, knowing we had a 2 1/2 hour drive to the Prickett's Fort Storytelling Festival. There is a magic in the air just before the sun comes up, that hazy half-light when the world is soft and fresh and waiting to begin. I felt the same, fresh and ready for a day of stories.
This festival is a new event for the WV Storytelling Guild, planned in cooperation with the Prickett's Fort staff and local Fairmont State University. Student volunteers were on hand to help set up and to act as guides as busloads of students from four area schools arrived. Adult volunteers were there too, and acted as site monitors and general help for all sorts of unexpected tasks.
The children filed into the amphitheatre for the first event of the day, the "olio" storytelling, which is another name for a program featuring several storytellers, each telling a short story. A few buses were late arriving, so we got a later start than planned, but we rolled ahead. I told my story of my childhood creation, Mr. Skinnyhead, and then hurried to my site for the day--the porch of Job House where I was joined by storyteller Mikalena Zuckett to wait for the olio to finish and the classes to be divided into groups and sent to the various sites. We had four storytelling sites set up, and schools also had the option to include a tour of the replica Revolutionary War era fort.
We wondered if we would have turnout for this first-ever event, but need not have worried. A good group turned out to listen as we presented our stories. I met two ladies from a local book group who had seen the event's publicity in the paper and decided to come because they had never heard storytellers before. They were well-pleased with what they heard! They each bought a copy of Self-Rising Flowers, the collection of Appalachian women stories that includes my story, "Yellow Roses."
Larry and I opted to drive home rather than getting a motel room for the night, even though it meant getting home around midnight. I had another performance Saturday morning about an hour from home and preferred to sleep in my own bed, even if it meant a shorter night because I never rest well the first night away from home. So Saturday morning we were up and out early again, although this time not before daybreak! We arrived in Athens, Ohio in plenty of time for me to set up and take a few minutes to tour the library. It really is a lovely space, well-maintained with friendly staff and a perfect setting--near high-traffic areas but in a quiet dead-end location with an small outside amphitheatre, windows out to the surrounding gardens and a quiet neighborhood around it.
The event was the library's 19th anniversary in this location. They had to build on not long after building the library because business boomed so quickly. Completely ADA accessible, the library offers meeting room space, an area for teens, a nice children's area and all sorts of activities on a regular basis. I was one of the special events planned for their anniversary celebration and was advised that my audience would probably come and go as people moved from event to event. The group was small when I started, but soon grew to a good-sized audience, mostly adults. I shifted my stories accordingly. No photos from Athens, unfortunately, because I forgot to give my camera to Larry. Ah well.
When we left, we intended to drive straight home. But then I remembered that it was the Volcano Days Festival, a celebration of West Virginia's oil and gas boomtown called Volcano and the industry that developed around the discovery of this natural resource. We'd attended the festival before and loved it; I wanted to go back but have alays been busy on the festival's annual weekend date. Although I was seriously tired (and almost had Larry turn around and go home when we were halfway there) we made the trek to the festival.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.