Saturday, February 8, 2014

First Annual Culpeper Tells… A Festival of Words Promises Something for Everyone!

On March 15, 2014 from 9:30 am – 9:30 pm, the first annual Culpeper Tells… A Festival of Words unfolds at the State Theater to delight one and all with a variety of performances.
The word “storytelling” is often associated with children only, and adults do not always realize how entertaining and powerful storytelling can be for them. Culpeper Tells will feature stories in the grand tradition of great storytelling masters, such as Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and Jean Robertson: stories that will be enthrall grownups and children who can listen like grownups.
Tellers were hired with a view toward a diversity of performance style so that the audience will experience a wide range of talent. Four of the brightest stars in the national storytelling arena will regale you with their tales. Kim Weitkamp, a renowned storyteller/author/songwriter/musician will make you laugh, cry, and laugh until you cry. Ed Stivender, called “the clown prince of storytelling” by the International Storytelling Center’s Jimmy Neil Smith, will elicit chuckles, grins, and belly laughs.
Storyteller Sheila Arnold, a theatrical tour de force, tells a wide array of original and traditional stories, often accenting them with her powerful singing. Author/Storyteller/Playwright Linda Goodman (Daughters of the Appalachians) dramatically shares tales with roots in her native Appalachian Mountains.
On Friday, March 14, as a prelude to the festival, two of the featured tellers will be offering special workshops at the Culpeper County Library in addition to their Saturday performances. Kim Weitkamp will present “Marketing Your Story” for business owners and non-profits from 1:00-2:30 pm.  From 3:00-4:30 pm, Linda Goodman will present “Cultural Journalism,” a workshop for anyone interested in recording oral family or personal histories.
The idea for this festival came from retired Eastern View High School librarian Milt Hathaway, who attended the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and thought it wonderful.  He and his wife later met with Debbie Stohlman, operations manager for the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, who was so inspired by their enthusiasm about their experience in Jonesborough that she decided to investigate “storytelling.” As the new president of the Friends of the Culpeper County Library, she felt a storytelling festival would be the perfect community event for the Friends to sponsor. A committee investigated the feasibility of producing such an event, and eventually that same group became the steering committee for Culpeper Tells…a Festival of Words.
As an 18-year attendee of the National Storytelling Festival, Elizabeth Hensley, Technical Services & Collection Development Coordinator at the Culpeper County Library, reached out to members of the storytelling community to find potential performers and partners for this event. Kim Weitkamp, not only an accomplished storyteller, but also an experienced festival producer, offered her design company, TreeHouse Artists, to create the logo for Culpeper Tells. She was also instrumental in the decision to choose a name for the event.
The festival has received a media grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. As part of the grant process, a variety of partners was sought out to sponsor Culpeper Tells. Those partners include: the Virginia Storytelling Alliance, the State Theatre of Culpeper, Culpeper Tourism Department, Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, Culpeper Renaissance, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Culpeper, and Gumbo Design Studios.
The Virginia Storytelling Alliance (VASA) will be hosting its annual “Gathering” during this same weekend. VASA will present a showcase of Virginia tellers performing at the library on Friday night and will wrap-up its activities in the meeting room of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Culpeper on Sunday morning. If you purchase a VASA Gathering weekend ticket, it will include all performance and workshop events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 
Registrations fees range from $10.00 for a single workshop, to $35.00 for the full day on Saturday, to $50.00 for a VASA Gathering weekend ticket. A barbeque dinner will be offered from 5:00 pm – 7:15 pm for $20.00 per person. To register for the festival, visit the website of the State Theatre of Culpeper, Virginia, at You may also reserve a room at the Holiday Inn by calling the hotel directly at (540)825-7444 and asking for the “storyteller” rate. The Inn is located at 787 Madison Rd, Culpeper, VA 22701.

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