In the days before television, radio and even the written word, people entertained themselves through the art of storytelling, which will be on display during an event Saturday night in Mount Airy.
The annual Tellebration! is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Mount Airy Public Library, where about seven storytellers will weave a variety of tales aimed at delighting the audience. Admission is free and open to the public.
Along with Saturday’s event in Mount Airy, similar activities will be occurring around the world with thousands of people gathering in villages, small towns, big cities, in fellowship halls and under shade trees to enjoy an evening of storytelling.
They will be continuing a Tellebration! tradition that unfolds on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year.
Since its beginning in 1988, Tellebration! has grown into one of the most impressive collective events in the history of modern storytelling.
Mount Airy has hosted a Tellebration! event since about 2007 or 2008, recalls Terri Ingalls of the Surry Storytellers group that presents it each year.
“And that was actually before our group got started,” added Ingalls, a master storyteller who lives in Westfield and will be among those taking the spotlight during Saturday night’s program.
Others will include Vickie Byrd, Dick Olchak, Susan Olchak, Stephen Pottoroff, ReVonda Crow and Vickie Town.
Ingalls said Thursday that the local Tellebration! has been a big hit with audiences.
“I think especially for this part of the country, people are reminded of sitting around as children and hearing their elders tell their stories,” she said. “So I think there’s a lot of nostalgia about that.”
Ingalls also explained that the art of storytelling provides a strong means of interacting one-on-one with people “that really doesn’t happen in a lot of other entertainment venues.”
She added that this certainly is true of television and even a live theater performance in which performers are separated from their audience by the so-called “fourth wall.” This refers to how most stages consist of three walls and an imaginary fourth one between the characters and those watching.
That provides a barrier no matter how impactful a play is, Ingalls said.
The storytellers will offer an array of tales Saturday night.
“There will be a blend — some personal stories, folk tales, maybe some ghost stories,” Ingalls said. “There’s always a wide variety of stories told.”
This will conform to the goal of Tellebration! founder J.G. “Paw Paw” Pinkerton, who believed storytellers are able to reach around the world and across generations to remind people of their common humanity.
The first Tellebration! in Mount Airy largely was launched through the efforts of Brack Llewellyn and the late Mike Lowe.
Lowe, a master storyteller, artist, musician and historian among other talents, died on Nov. 7.
Ingalls said a few minutes of Saturday’s program will devoted to honoring Lowe and his contribution to the craft of storytelling.
“He was really influential in helping us get started.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.