Friends, I know it is Friday, but I am sad. Today is the start of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and I am stuck in Indiana! For one weekend each year, giant white tents fill the tiny, historic town of Jonesborough. The streets become pedestrian paths lined with hay bales, mums, and pumpkins, and stories can be heard wafting through the crisp, fall air.
Oral storytelling is an Appalachian tradition, and from traditional Jack tales to personal stories of childhood mishaps, the National Storytelling Festival has it all. I certainly remember listening to the legendary Ray Hicks tell stories of Jack and his bumbling antics when I was a child, but I also heard African and Caribbean folktales from Len Cabral, what it was like to grow up in Georgia by Kathryn Windham, perfectly spun lies by Bil Lepp, and how to deal with nuns taking your tonsils by Donald Davis.
Regardless, I know each of the stories I’ve heard in Jonesborough over the years has opened my heart just a bit more.