Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival

Event Date: June 07, 2024 - June 08, 2024

Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival

The Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival, inspired by the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tenn., will bring three nationally known storytellers to Oak Ridge June 7 and 8 with performances at the Historic Grove Theater, the Oak Ridge Public Library and the Oak Ridge Senior Center.

The storytellers are Charlotte Blake Alston, Josh Goforth and Bil Lepp. Each uses the power of storytelling to entertain and educate audiences, with hilarious, exaggerated tales or with true stories that shed light on cultures and historic events.  

All three storytellers will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, June 7, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 8 at the Grove. Lovers of storytelling can attend all three shows and hear different tales at each one. Tickets to each event are $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 17. Tickets may be purchased at the Flatwater Tales website, https://flatwatertales.com. Tickets for these three shows may be purchased with cash or check at Calamity’s Coffee, 219 Jackson Square, Oak Ridge.

The storytellers will also offer free, 35-minute shows the mornings of June 7 and 8 at the Oak Ridge Senior Center and Oak Ridge Public Library. Those interested in attending must register for free tickets on the festival’s website because of limited seating.

Charlotte Blake Alston will be the featured presenter at 7 p.m. June 7 at the Historic Grove Theater, 123 Randolph Road. She will tell the inspiring story of the Six-Triple-Eight, the first all-Black Women’s Army Corps battalion assigned to military duty in Europe during World War II. She received a standing ovation when she presented the story at the 2022 National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough.

Alston brings traditional and contemporary stories from African and African American oral and cultural tradition to her national and international audiences. She often brings traditional instruments such as djembe and the 21-stringed kora into her performances. Also a librettist and singer, she is the host of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s preschool concert series. Among her honors are a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Zora Neale Hurston Award, the highest award given by the National Association of Black Storytellers.

Josh Goforth will be the featured storyteller and musician at 2 p.m. June 8 at the Grove. He entertains with foot-stomping music and stories that come from his Appalachian roots. Goforth plays nearly 20 instruments, inspired in middle school by a Sheila Kay Adams performance to focus on the musical heritage and stories of his native Madison County, NC. He started his musical career at age 4 playing piano in church.

Goforth has performed in all 50 states, as well as internationally, and he has toured with David Holt, the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Band, and the Steep Canyon Rangers. He played fiddle for the movie and soundtrack of “Songcatcher” in 2000, and in 2009 he was nominated for a Grammy for his album with Holt, “Cutting Loose.” He’s on the faculty at the Academy for the Arts in Asheville, NC.

Bil Lepp will be featured at 7 p.m. June 8 at the Grove, presenting stories of adventure and mayhem involving his friend “Skeeter.” He’ll again tell his story, “John Hendrix, Prophet of Oak Ridge,” but with a new twist to the story’s end. A six-time veteran of the festival, he  has been described as “a side-splittingly funny man.” Though a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest, he tells stories that often contain morsels of truth, presenting universal themes in clever and witty ways.

A storyteller, author and recording artist, Lepp is the star of the History Channel’s “Man vs. History” and an occasional host of NPR’s “Mountain Stage.” Growing up in a family “where the truth was fluid,” he said, he began spinning tales at a young age. His 28 books and audio collections have won numerous awards, including the PEN Steven Kroll Award for Children’s Book Writing, Parents’ Gold Awards, and from the Public Library Association.

Free programs, each 35 minutes, will be at:

·         Oak Ridge Senior Center, 1405 Oak Ridge Turnpike, at 11 a.m. Friday, June 7. Goforth will offer  a “Taste of the Tales” and will jam, workshop style, with the center’s guitar group. The Senior Center welcomes adult visitors. Adults 18 and older are welcome to attend with or without a guitar for a foot-stomping good time.

·         Oak Ridge Senior Center, 10 a.m. Saturday, June 8. Lepp, a popular and humorous storyteller on the national circuit, will offer a taste of his witty tales. Adults 18 and older are welcome to attend.

·         Oak Ridge Public Library, 1401 Oak Ridge Turnpike, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 8. Alston, described as enchanting, mesmerizing and captivating, will present a short program for children 5 and older and their families.

The Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival is led by volunteers and sponsored by CNS-Y-12, Pinnacle Financial Partners, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the three Rotary Clubs in Oak Ridge. For more information, see the festival website, https://flatwatertales.com.

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123 Randolph Road, Oak Ridge, TN 37830