"It is so beyond my bedtime here on the East Coast… but you kept me up! Thanks, bravo!” An unexpected advantage of transmitting the Auburn Winter Storytelling Festival online on January 23, 2021. With so many performing arts programs cancelled the Foothill Storytelling Guild took a chance to produce our sixth annual event on Zoom. Our tellers stepped up and adapted their art to performing for the camera rather than a live-in-person audience. We were told that our small town produced a high-quality program worthy of much larger cities.
RECAP OF THE PROGRAM
The day began with an hour of children’s stories at 11 am. Starting at 2 pm, the mic was open to anyone wanting to tell a five-minute story. Seventeen people accepted the challenge. The professionals took over at 7 pm with five nationally known and award-winning tellers entertaining the audience. The first, Noa Baum, Silver Springs, Maryland, told of a Jewish child growing up in Jerusalem. BZ Smith, a descendent of the indigenous people of California, told of a young man going off alone to pray, fast and consider his way. Eric Hurtt, from Citrus Heights, an accomplished local teller, told three hilarious stories of the Gold Rush time. An Asian-American woman, Linda Yemoto, from San Francisco, related the tale of a woman who sewed her husband a Kimono. Cynthia Restivo, from Sonora, told of washing her husband’s body after he had died with love and unexpected humor.
NUMBER OF ARTISTS WHO PARTICIPATED
Our programing director targeted eight diverse ethnicities in the tellers listed above. One very experienced emcee: Mark Berry, Auburn. Three zoom tech operators: Chery Anderson, Auburn; Rebecca Partridge, Auburn; and Don Adams, Weimar. Two professional children's tellers: Linda Kennedy, Lincoln; Ed Lewis, Davis, and a high school senior from Orange County, Kristen Slymen who led children’s singing. Seventeen community members volunteered to tell at Open Telling.
ESTIMATED NUMBER OF ATTENDEES
The Storytelling Festival drew a total of 194 racially mixed attendees over zoom.us. For the children’s morning program, there were 37 households. The afternoon programs drew 65 all adults, some young, some middle-aged, and some seniors. The evening showcase had 92 people attending online from all over the nation.
ESTIMATED ECONOMIC IMPACT
AWSF is produced by an all-volunteer group, the Foothill Storytelling Guild, who live in the surrounding vicinity. The hands-on group consisted of four Auburn residents who set-up computers in the General Gomez Event Center and from 10 am until 10 pm. The Auburn Arts Council grant covered the fee for use of the local business building.
PROVIDE IMPACT FOR ATTENDEES
The event introduced new people to the Art of Storytelling through a day of stories that entertained and inspired. Each program includes a chat box with comments at the end of the story. Over 50 people commented. Some comments were: "This is FUN! Great songs and children’s stories.” “Great! (happy face)” “Very moving story beautifully told.” “Your story moved me more than I can say.” “Thank you for the perfect evening.” And then there was the message from Maureen in Florida: “I forgot you were in the Pacific Time Zone. I can’t stay.”
The support of the Arts Council of Placer County, Auburn Arts Commission, and Poets & Writers made it possible for the Foothill Storytelling Guild to offer this art form to the community free for the sixth year. We are very proud of that.
Next event January 22, 2022.