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Story Slam!

Old School, New Rules

Deadline Friday, August 10th!

Have you got what it takes to be the National Storytelling Festival’s next Best Story Slammer? Anyone’s welcome to apply – all you need is a little bit of courage and a true, five-minute story that suits this year’s theme, REVELATION.

Applications are in the form of a recorded 2-minute story excerpt. (Details below.) All entries will be judged by a panel and six will be selected to tell at the National Storytelling Festival on Saturday, October 6. Those selected to tell will receive a weekend ticket to the Festival!

• Your story must connect to the theme REVELATION in some way. You do not need to say the word ‘Revelation’ in your story, but you do need to connect to the idea.
• True, original stories only.
• Contestants must be at least 16 years old.
• Stories must be told, not read. No notes or props.
• Content must be suitable for a general audience, ages 13 and up.
• Former featured National Storytelling Festival tellers are not eligible to enter.
• Be sure it’s a story with a beginning, middle and end, and not a joke or anecdote.
• You’ll be notified if you’ve been chosen for the Slam by August 31.

First place: $300
Second place: $150
Third place: $50

You can enter by providing an excerpt of your story by phone or by mailing a recording. Make sure the excerpt conveys how your story will relate to the theme “Revelation.”

To enter by phone: Call 1-877-822-0380 and follow the prompts. You’ll be asked for your name, phone number, and email address. Then provide a two minute excerpt of your story.

To mail, send recording to:
International Storytelling Center
Attn: Story Slam
116 W. Main
Jonesborough, TN 37659

Deadline to enter is Friday, August 10. You’ll be notified if you’re ‘in’ by August 31.

It is a competition – and if you are selected to tell at the Festival, you’ll only have five minutes at the mic to wow the judges. You will be judged on your performance, how well the story is crafted, its connection to the theme, and adherence to the 5-minute time limit. Please remember you do not have to say the theme REVELATION in your story; it only needs to be implied. Be creative!

Midnight Cabaret

Stay up late and enjoy a night of rollicking, grown-up fun at the ever-popular Midnight Cabaret.

  • Tickets are sold separately. $20 for adults.
  • Buy Now!
  • Not recommended for children.
  • Stories begin Friday night, October 5th at 10:30 p.m.

The 2018 National Storytelling Festival Midnight Cabaret Tellers.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

Sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts

Crones and gnomes and creepy things fill two nights of fanciful adventures in open-air concerts beneath the stars.

Brave the Ghost Story Concerts with two different collections of frightening tales served up beneath the nighttime sky during open-air performances which are always a Festival favorite.   

Tickets are sold separately.  $10 for all ages. Buy Now!

Stories begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night in any kind of weather.  Tickets are available at the gate.  Only ground seating is available, so bring your blankets.

The 2018 National Storytelling Festival Ghost Story Tellers.

Exchange Place

Explore the diversity of American storytelling at Exchange Place, featuring tellers new to the National Storytelling Festival stage. A revered Festival tradition, the program includes specially invited storytellers from across the country who share their finest tales during the National Storytelling Festival. 

The Exchange Place event is included with your weekend admission, but has limited seating. Check back for the 2018 Exchange Place Storytellers.

Yarnspinners’ Party

Celebrate, meet the National Storytelling Festival’s featured tellers, and enjoy great food and fellowship at the Yarnspinners’ Party on Saturday, October 6 from 5-7 p.m. at the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall.

Entertainment provided by the Jonesborough Novelty Band, who will be joined by some of your favorite musically-talented tellers ― including Donald Davis on the accordian.

The Yarnspinners’ Party is hosted by the ISC Board of Governors and sponsored by Holston Distributing, Main Street Catering, and One Stop Wines & Spirits.

Proceeds from this private event go to support the work of the International Storytelling Center.  Tickets are $100.  This is a tax deductible contribution.  For reservations or more information, call (800) 952-8392, ext. 283 or Buy Now!

Wine and Beer Garden

Sponsored by Holston Distributing

Relax in the afternoon at the Festival’s Wine and Beer Garden, featuring a selection of regional beer and wine available for purchase.  A popular festival feature.  The Wine and Beer Garden is sponsored by Holston Distributing.

On the front plaza of the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall.

4–7 p.m. Thursday
4–8 p.m. Friday & Saturday

Swappin’ Ground

Under the Swappin' Ground

At the first National Storytelling Festival in 1973, a handful of storytellers gathered around the courthouse in Jonesborough’s town square and traded tales.  An old wagon served as the stage, and listeners took their seats on bales of hay. 

Today the Swappin’ Ground tradition continues in the center of Storytelling Park.  Here, anyone can tell a tale—and many do.  Stop by and listen as tellers recapture the humble beginnings of the National Storytelling Festival.

To share a story of your own, just sign up at the Festival Headquarters.

Swappin’ Ground is hosted by the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild.

Free Event (does not require separate ticket).



Marketplace Tent

During the Festival, be sure to visit the National Storytelling Festival’s official store for storyteller merchandise and Festival souvenirs including the latest storytelling books, teller CDs and DVDs, shirts, tote bags, and more! The Marketplace Tent is located on the corner of First Ave. and College St. next to the Food Court.

Meet the Tellers!

Throughout the Festival weekend you can also come to the Marketplace to meet your favorite storytellers face-to-face and get autographs!  Further information will be included in your Program of Events, which you’ll receive when you arrive at Festival Registration.

Family Tent

Sponsored by Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa

Some of your favorite storytellers will tell tales and spin yarns for the young and young-at-heart. The daytime program, featuring the festival’s mainstage tellers, is scheduled from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday at the Library Tent.

The Family Tent is sponsored by Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa and is included with your weekend admission. A separate Friday only ticket can be purchased. For tickets or information call 800-952-8392 or Buy Now!

Special Events

In addition to main stage performances, other special events will be presented during the Festival weekend and before - don’t miss them!

Come to Jonesborough early and join Donald Davis for a remarkable evening of storytelling, Wednesday night, October 3rd on the Festival grounds.

Stay up late and enjoy a night of rollicking, grown-up fun at the ever-popular Midnight Cabaret.

Brave the Ghost Story Concerts with two different collections of frightening tales served up beneath the nighttime sky during open-air performances which are always a Festival favorite.   

Hear a specially-invited showcase of storytellers new to the National Storytelling Festival stage at a revered festival custom, Exchange Place.

Join the fun of the National Storytelling Festival Story Slam! where the teller is you!

Take part in a Festival tradition at the Swappin’ Ground. Here, anyone can tell a tale and many do.  You can even share a story of your own, just be sure to register ahead of time at Festival headquarters.