By Katie Ellington, Contributing Writer
Downtown Wilmore will be bustling this weekend thanks to two festivals: the Annual Arts & Crafts Festival on Saturday and a new storytelling festival which begins Friday evening.
More Tales: The Wilmore Storytelling Festival brings the traditional art of storytelling to the Wilmore. Storytelling is an artform by which various of cultures have preserved their heritage through oral tradition.
“The values of a culture are passed in its stories,” says Ed Bryson, the president of the Kentucky Storytelling Association and acting director of the festival. “It’s the art of transferring human experience from one generation to the next.”
Bryson began working with the Wilmore Community Development Board earlier this year, when local businesswoman and amateur storyteller Jody Brock brought him to a board meeting.
“The storytelling festival is a new and exciting event for Wilmore, one we want to gain traction and become an annual event,” said Judy Woolums, the director of the Wilmore Community Development Board.
The storytelling festival will take place on the Wilmore green at 200 Rice Street. It will feature experienced storytellers sharing ghost stories, folk tales, tall tales, liar’s tales and original stories. There will also be a chance for attendees to tell their stories during the open mic session and story slam competition.
“Many of us have attended festivals, workshops and conferences over the years,” said Bryson of his fellow storytellers. “Some have told stories for years in a professional capacity.”
This year’s featured storytellers include Bryson, Roy Lauter, Octavia Sexton and Amy Yeary Holmes.
Lauter is a retired Asbury University professor and camp meeting preacher who tells folk stories he heard growing up in Eastern Kentucky. Sexton also grew up in eastern KY. She specializes in the oral tradition of Appalachia and draws inspiration for her work from folk stories, ghost tales and Cherokee legends. Holmes is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. She is now a chaplain and storyteller whose stories range from humorous tales to eerie ghost stories.
The festival kicks off on the Wilmore green at 4:00 on Friday with a series of stories designed for children. “Spine-tingling” tails begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, followed by storytelling sessions at 10:00, 2:00 and 7:00 on Saturday. Each of these sessions will include stories from all four storytellers. Spectators can enter their names for a chance to tell a five-minute story during the open mic at 12:15 and competition at 5:15. Student, individual and family packages are available for $20, $25 and $45, respectively. A la carte pricing is also available for each segment of the festival.
“Stories infect us,” said Bryson. “People will be entertained and likely remember the storytellers in their own family who engaged and inspired them. They may even be reminded of stories they forgot long ago.”
The 20th Annual Arts & Crafts festival will take place Saturday 9 to 4. As usual, East Main Street will be closed from the Post Office to the railroad tracks to accommodate the festival. While the artist count is not set in stone, more than 30 have registered with the Wilmore Community Development Board. Last year, 50 artisans attended. According to Woolums, that artisans must be approved in order to assure that all items are high quality and handmade.
“The Arts & Crafts has an established reputation as a small quality art show,” said Woolums. “There will be lots of fall and Christmas-themed items, as well as pottery, fiber arts, photography, woodworking, baskets, stained glass, handcrafted soaps and candles, and so on. Many people shop for Christmas gifts at this festival.”
The festival will also feature live music from 9:30 to 3:30. The line-up includes a string band, country and folk, bluegrass and ragtime artists.
Woolums said the board planned the events the same weekend to compliment each other and limit the impact on the city’s resources.
“These events attract our local residents and also bring in visitors from surrounding communities and even other counties,” said Woolums. “It’s about drawing community together, offering quality events for residents and visitors, and showcasing what Wilmore does have to offer.”
One of Wilmore’s newest businesses, Autumn & Company boutique, opened this summer after out of town visitors came to Wilmore for the coaster car derby last April and “fell in love” with Wilmore.
Tickets for the storytelling festival can be purchased at Wilmore City Hall or by calling 859-858-4411. Student prices range from $5-$15 per segment or $20 for a weekend pass. Visit city hall for additional information.