Storytelling Strengthens Our Community

Thousands are expected to travel to Tennessee’s Oldest Town this weekend. The National Storytelling Festival kicks off Wednesday night in downtown Jonesborough, but the real stories, tales and fables will start Friday and continue into Sunday.

The more than four decade old festival is growing in more than one direction, the National Storytelling Festival is expanding west. Tuesday, the center announced they will join forces with Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort to help expand storytelling at Dollywood’s newest destination in the Great Smoky Mountains.

International Storytelling Center Director Kiran Singh Sirah said they will, “train staff, front of house stuff, so people can get that storytelling experience.”

But while they’ve expanded their boundaries outside the oldest town in Tennessee, they’re also ensuring festival goers something different each year.

Many new storyteller’s have been added to the list, including two you may recognize stories from in the hit Netflix show “Orange is the New Black.”

“They’re coming here to do sessions about how stories have changed their lives,” said Sirah. “What’s Piper doing right now and what’s Larry doing right now?”

But the storytelling festival isn’t just about the tales, it’s about growing the community, too.

“(Getting people) to not just stay for three days, to stay for two weeks, stay for a month and experience all the arts and the cultural opportunities that exist in this region,” Sirah said.

Helping the town economically, according to Steve Cook, “the Storytelling Festival got us through the winter months”

Cook is the owner of Jonesborough Art Glass Gallery. He looks forward to the first weekend of October every year.

“(It brings in an) educated crowd, they have expendable income, they’re very polite people,” Cook said. “They have a goal to come and enjoy our town, our festival and our people.”

One other way the festival is growing this year, they will be live streaming from the festival for the first time ever. It’s geared toward all high schools across the nation, and even people in Singapore and Malaysia will be tuning in. You can, too.

Story By Lauren Haviland, Weekend Anchor / Digital Journalist