There is a place where you can visit a farm, walk with Civil War soldiers, climb a water spout with a spider, and be part of an epic love story, all in one day -- at a storytelling festival.
Weber State University's annual Storytelling Festival starts Monday, Feb. 25, and continues through Wednesday, Feb. 27. Admission is free, for all but a banquet on Tuesday, but donations are appreciated to help support the massive festival.
"We have an event for everybody, from preschoolers to senior citizens," said Ann Ellis, chairwoman of Weber State University's Storytelling Festival.
Four nationally known storytellers are coming to Utah for the festival. Megan Hicks, of Virginia, is known for creating origami while telling stories. Missouri storyteller Beth Horner tells funny and serious stories about everything from childhood on a farm to her great-great-grandfather's Civil War experiences. David Novak, of North Carolina, is a storyteller with a background in acting. Ohio teller Kevin Cordi tells stories from his Appalachian family, his work with a Navajo code talker, and fantasies of pigs running for public office.
"Kevin Cordi is probably the No. 1 man in the world for teaching teachers how to teach children to tell stories," said Ellis. Encouraging children to tell stories is a big focus of the festival committee, and always has been.
"We have more children involved in telling stories, and they do better and better every year," Ellis said.
Children who qualified through school tryouts will be performing, along with local adults who competed for spots in the festival.
An Ogden teen, Aleksa Poulter, decided to try her skill in the adult tryouts for the WSU festival this year.
"For many years, she represented her school, but this year she's appearing as one of the regular storytellers," Ellis said. "She actually came and went through the regular audition process with all the adults, and did really, really well."
College students are getting more opportunities to engage with storytellers on campus this year. Workshops for students (also open to the public) focus on learning how to tell stories with origami, telling stories to teach, performing stories and portraying pioneers.
"On Tuesday, we have a really big day here on campus," said Ellis. "We have a Story Slam, where students can come and do an open-mic story, and there are prizes."
Storytelling sessions geared for seniors, at local assisted living centers, are scheduled the first and last days of the festival. "It's a fun way to extend the art, and encourage older people to tell their own stories," said Ellis.
Most Monday and Tuesday sessions will be in the Eccles Conference Center and Peery's Egyptian Theater in Ogden. Most events on Wednesday will be at the Davis Conference Center in Layton. A few events are scheduled each day on the WSU campus.
Senior concerts are offered Monday at Mountain Ridge Assisted Living Center in Ogden, and Wednesday at Apple Village Assisted Living in Layton.
9:30-10:20 a.m. -- "Early Bird Stories," Eccles Conference Center and Peery's Egyptian Theater; national tellers Beth Horner, Kevin Cordi, Megan Hicks and David Novak, one in each room, paired with local tellers Cherie Davis, Bill Higley, Kate Nuttall and Carol Esterreicher
10:30-11:20 a.m. -- "Morning Magic," Eccles Conference Center and Peery's Egyptian Theater; choose a session with Horner and local teller Jean Andra Miller, Cordi with local Nanette Watts, or locals-only sessions with Higley and Laurie Allen or Rene Sheets and Karl Behling
11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. -- "Tales to Remember," Eccles Conference Center and Peery's Egyptian Theater; sessions with Novak and Watts, or with locals Behling and Nuttall, or David Bullock and Cathy Barker
11:30 a.m. -- "Storytelling With Origami," WSU Ogden campus, McKay Building, workshop with Megan Hicks
1:30 p.m. -- Story concert for seniors with locals Allen, Davis and Watts, Mountain Ridge Assisted Living Center
6:30-7:20 p.m. -- "Bedtime Stories," Eccles Conference Center; Megan Hicks with local teller Virginia Rasmussen
7:30 p.m. -- "Campfire Tales," Eccles Conference Center, with national tellers Novak, Horner and Cordi
9:30-10:20 a.m. -- "Early Bird Stories," Eccles Conference Center and Peery's Egyptian Theater; one national teller in each room, paired with local tellers Joan Effiong, Janine Nishiguchi, Suzanne Decaria and Tamra Pratt
10:30-11:20 a.m. -- "Morning Magic," Eccles Conference Center and Peery's Egyptian Theater, choose session with Horner, or with Hicks and local teller Sharon Rogers, or locals-only rooms with Nishiguchi and Cassie Ashton or with Aleksa Poulter
11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. -- "Tales to Remember," Eccles Conference Center and Peery's Egyptian Theater; sessions with Hicks and local teller Kathleen Lund, Novak with local Richard Hatch, or local teller Sharon Rogers
12:30-1:20 p.m. -- WSU Brown Bag Story Slam, WSU Ogden campus, Student Union building, hosted by Horner and local teller Rachel Hedman
2 p.m. -- "Creation Tales, Ph.D.," symposium, WSU Ogden campus in the Stewart Library's Hetzel-Hoellein Room
3:15 p.m. -- "Gilgamesh," performance by David Novak, WSU Ogden campus in the Stewart Library's Hetzel-Hoellein Room
6:30 p.m. -- Storytelling Festival Banquet, with national tellers, Timbermine Restaurant, 1701 Park Blvd., Ogden; $60, reservations required, 801-626-6278
9:30-10:20 a.m. -- "Early Bird Stories," Davis Conference Center; Horner, Cordi and Hicks, one in each room, paired with local tellers Julie Barnson, Ginger Parkinson, and Jan C. Smith, or locals-only room with Kira Larkin and Stephen Gashler
10:30-11:20 a.m. -- "Morning Magic," Davis Conference Center; choose session with Cordi and local teller Suzanne Hudson, Horner with local Holly Robison, Novak with Barnson, or locals Daniel Bishop and Pamela Hanks
11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. -- "Tales to Remember," Davis Conference Center, sessions with Novak and Utah teller Clive Romney, Hicks and Robison, or locals Bishop and Parkinson or Stephen Gashler and George McEwan
11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. -- "Teaching With Story," workshop with Jan. C. Smith, WSU's McKay building
1:30-2:20 p.m., "Performing Story" workshop with Kevin Cordi, in the Acting Studio of WSU's Browning Center (enter from A9 parking lot sidewalk)
2:30-3:20 p.m. -- "Pioneer Portrayals ... and You," by Romney and Hudson, WSU's Social Science building
2:30 p.m. -- Story concert for seniors with locals Esther Phelps Jackson, George McEwan and Ginger Parkinson, Apple Village Assisted Living Center
6:30-7:20 p.m. -- "Peter and the Wolf" and other story music, with local teller Rachel Hedman and Aspen Winds, Davis Conference Center
7:30 p.m. -- "National Storytellers Concert," Davis Conference Center