Storytellers mesmerized audience members June 7 as part of Cache Valley’s inaugural storytelling festival in North Logan. The event began as one man’s dream to bring stories to his home after watching storytelling festivals enhance and unite communities around the state.
Years ago Wayne McKay was introduced to the acclaimed Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and was entranced as he listened to the tellers and observed people of all ages laughing and connecting with the stories. He returned year after year taking note of the storytellers, the audience and the community.
“So I came away and I thought, 'Boy, that would really be cool if we had something like that up in Cache Valley',” said McKay.
It was bumpy road bringing his dream north, but after six months of strong effort, the festival was ready for its debut.
On the day of the festival, the park grounds bustled with people, food, music and stories, bringing the community together for a day of oratorical celebration. The skills of diverse storytellers from traditional tellers to musicians and magicians were highlighted throughout the day. They had one thing in common—a passion for the art. The tellers say stories help people make connections, and gives individuals strength and direction.
“We learn to negotiate our world through stories—our parents tell stories, the bible tells stories, stories are all around us—and we’re hardwired to learn through stories," said festival teller Clive Romney. "So being able to tell our story is therapeutic and being able to tell any story is a valuable skill in business, in social relations."
Storytellers Nannette Watts and Lori Hansen say storytelling teaches children important values and life skills.
“In their brains they are shaping story and they will then learn the patterns of story in their own lives, and therefore they will be healthier people,” said Watts.
“A quote that comes to my mind often is by Albert Einstein, and Albert Einstein said, ‘If you want your children to be intelligent read them folktales. If you want them to be extremely intelligent read them more fairytales,’ and I believe that there is so much truth and wisdom in folktales,” said Hansen.
Hansen also says stories have a strong healing component.
"There have been personal events in my life as in everybody’s that are horrible things that happen, but every time I tell specific stories that deal with that, I feel a little bit more whole and a little bit more healed," said Hansen.
Tellers Ted Erekson and Teresa Clark say imagination is strengthened by stories.
“Any time I tell stories, especially the kids, I want them to go home and re-tell them," said Erekson. "That is the beauty to me of storytelling; it becomes their story. It increases their imagination because I may tell a story about an ogre and describe certain things, but in their own mind that ogre may have different horns, it may be a different color than what I envisioned, and all of a sudden it becomes theirs because they’re using their mind and filling in the blanks.
“A fourth grader once said to me after I’d told stories, ‘When you were telling stories, I felt like I was watching a movie, what was that?’ And as I spoke to her I learned that every room in her home had a screen and she had never experienced visual imagery in her head. And that’s both heartbreaking and motivating because what I want is for everyone to remember that they have imaginations, and that those pictures are in their heads and that there is a purpose for them. We process in our brains; if we can see it, we remember it," said Clark.
McKay says the future of the festival looks bright Cache Valley community.
“As long as we provide good, wholesome family entertainment and we do it in a reasonable cost, it’s going to continue to grow,” said McKay.
For more information about the festival and storytellers, visit the festival website.