Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hampton Roads Storyteller Sheila Arnold to Be Featured at Culpeper Tells, A Festival of Words

           Take an Oprah personality, shake in the travels of a military brat, add in a single mother's experiences, and blend in a little girl who loved reading any type of story with the college student that fostered her love of history, and you just might have Ms. Sheila.  If you are looking for some variety in storytelling, Sheila Arnold is like the Virginia weather: if you wait a minute, she will change up and surprise you."

My Daddy was a country boy who lived in Catlett/Calverton, Virginia in Fauquier County.  He used to play football and remembers the Culpeper team as being one of the biggest.  I love when he tells those stories about his early days,” states Arnold, who will be one of four featured storytellers at the first annual Culpeper Tells, a Festival of Words, to be held at the State Theater in Culpeper on March 15, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.  “I come to Culpeper with the joy of knowing my Daddy's footsteps have already been there, and I hope that others will find footsteps that mirror theirs in my stories.”

Arnold, who is often compared to the late, great storyteller Jackie Torrence, says, “I love watching how people remember stories and how they recall memories when I tell a story; whether it's personal, a folktale, a fairytale or even one of my original stories.  I especially love when they take the tale and share it with someone else.”

When asked about her favorite storytelling experience, Arnold replies, “I do a lot of storytelling for students who are visiting Colonial Williamsburg. Many of the students and their chaperones  travel for hours to get there, and when they walk in and see a storyteller, they are likely to remark, ‘Ugh, can't we just go the pool?’  But within ten minutes chaperones and students alike are wide awake, participating, hearing every word and, at the end, saying, ‘Wow! Is it over?’  I love watching the change.”

Another time, Arnold was performing for adults at First Baptist Church in Warrenton.  “I began my first story with the song, Wading in the Water, and before I hit the second line, the pianist rushed back to the piano, found my key, and started playing.  Then the entire congregation joined in.  I had never had that happen before and I loved it!  After the song, everyone sat on the edge to listen to storytelling. At the end, a number people told me that they never realized what storytelling was and that they enjoyed being a part of it." 

When you see Ms. Sheila Arnold, you will hear stories that make you see pictures in your head and leave you wanting more. To find out more about Ms. Sheila, visit her website at

The festival has received a media grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation. A variety of partners are sponsoring the event, including the Virginia Storytelling Alliance (VASA), the State Theatre of Culpeper, Culpeper Tourism Department, Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, Culpeper Renaissance, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Culpeper, and Gumbo Design Studios.
VASA will be hosting its annual Gathering during this same weekend, with events on Friday evening and 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 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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