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Storytellers gather to Telebrate

Keith Strange Staff Reporter

November 24, 2013

A few words painted on a decorative boat oar perched on the stage area of a room at the Mount Airy Regional Library Saturday night told the story. No pun intended.


It read: Welcome friends. Tall tales and fish stories told here.


Dozens of area residents braved the cold wind to turn out for an evening of storytelling presented by the Imagine That! storytellers.


The trip was worth it.


From the very young to the not-so-young, audience members sat at rapt attention as eight world-class storytellers spun yarns as varied as themselves. On involved a cat and a dead poodle. Another? A long-ago gunfight.


The event joined Mount Airy to the international community of storytellers, as it was a part of Telebration, a world-wide event where storytellers gather before audiences at the same time on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.


“Right now, at this very moment, storytellers from around the world are gathered, spinning their yarns and making audiences laugh and cry,” said storyteller Terri Ingalls.


The local storyteller’s guild began in 1989, when a group of local storytellers began meeting, eventually forming Imagine That!


For Ingalls, the art of storytelling is rewarding in itself.


“Oh my gosh,” she said. “Stories connect us to the past. They connect us with the future. The audience interaction and seeing their reaction to the simple spoken word is very rewarding.”


She paused.


“And it’s fun,” she said, smiling widely. “Lots and lots of fun.”


Vicki Byrd, the president of the storytelling guild, agreed.


“The crowds sometimes vary and we often pick our stories based on the audience,” she said. “Everyone has chosen their own story. Some will make up their own story, and others will take stories that are already out there and put their own particular spin on them.


“But one and all, they’re a treat and a privilege to hear,” she said. “Every one of them are from the heart, and every one of our storytellers just does a wonderful job.”


If the smiles on their faces are any indication, the yarns spun Saturday night will live on in the audience’s memory a long time.


Reach Keith Strange at kstrange@civitasmedia.com or 719-1929.