Illinois Storytelling Festival this weekend

Illinois Storytelling Festival this weekend


We have told stories since the beginning of time. Stories bring families together, connect the generations and span the centuries. Storytelling is at the heart of human experience, and it is just as vital today as ever before.

The Illinois Storytelling Festival celebrates the art of storytelling at its 18th annual festival, this year on July 28 and 29 in the Spring Grove Village Park Saturday (noon to 8 p.m.), Saturday night (9 p.m. to midnight) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Nationally touring and local professional storytellers will share the stages with local elders and school children.

Featured storytellers this year are: Barbara McBride-Smith of Tulsa, a humorist who tells Greek myths from the hilarious point of view of a west Texas cowgirl; Doug Elliott of Painters Gap, N.C., who spouts woods lore, sings about catfish, pontificates on possums, tells wild snake tales and wails out lively harmonica tunes; Jamal Koram of Baltimore, a storyteller, spirit drummer, singer and performer who loves sharing stories filled with folkloric characters, human dilemmas, hope, courage and love; Angela Lloyd of California, a matchmaker of spoken word and music, playing auto harp, tenor guitar, cuatro, spoons and world-class washboard; and Chicago’s Beth Horner, whose stories are a balance between the traditional and the contemporary.

Saturday morning, Jamal Koram will give a workshop on using storytelling to reach young people at risk. And Barbara McBride-Smith will, along with Corrine Stavish of Detroit, present a workshop on giving voice to the unheard stories of women in the Bible.

The Festival will also showcase storytellers Don Falkos and Anne Shimojima. Special guests include Ricardo Provencio of Phoenix; Antonio Sacre of Los Angeles; and ASE, the Chicago Association of Black Storytellers, along with many others. Members of “Memory Makers,” an elders storytelling club, will share their touching and humorous life stories and anecdotes. Children from the local schools will also tell.

The stories will be told continuously under five large tents throughout the weekend. Saturday night includes square dancing and Ghost Stories till midnight. The ghost stories will begin with humorous and lighthearted fare for children, with more scary stories creeping in toward midnight. Gathering under the stars in the moonlight to listen to these stories of haunting and mystery has become increasingly popular with young adults and teenagers, who describe the experience as “the perfect date.”

Sunday morning begins with a choice of Sacred Stories or Spiritual Stories from the Judeo-Christian tradition, then continues with many varied tales throughout the day.

Festival-goers are invited to pack a picnic or enjoy the food and refreshments available on the grounds. Seating is available under the tents, or bring your own. Sign language interpreters will be provided throughout the festival, and the site is accessible with golf cart shuttles for the handicapped and seniors.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and older, $5 for children age 9 to 15. Children 8 and under are free. Festival-goers who would like to attend both the Saturday day and Saturday night sessions will receive a discount. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets may be purchased at the gate.

For more information, contact the Festival office at (815) 344-0181 or visit the Festival’s web site at

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