10/01/2009

Jonesborough - Day 1









It was a long drive from Maryland to Jonesborough, TN but surprisingly easy. Traffic was light. Sunny weaether all the way. This was Karen's first time at the National Storytelling Festival and we were really glad to have her with us. Jim and I always stop first at the Visitors Center to pick up tickets, check new books, look around and see people.


After we settled in at the hotel and took Karen out to Bridget's where we usually stay we walked around town.

The storytellers and their guests gathered at the church for the Opening Supper at 7 PM. Jim snapped this picture and I think you can see that I was really happy to be there - but a little taken back when I saw the slide show. Up front theater sized photos of all the tellers were rolling across a screen. I tell you it startled me when mine popped on the screen. You know the feeling. It's true. It's true. I am really here.


Long tables with storytellers gather around them. Lots of conversation. Food was good. Everybody was introduced. The festival was started.

After all the eating and talking was done golf carts were waiting outside to take the Exchange Place tellers to the College Street Tent for our sound check. The tent was neatly set up, empty, large - and beautiful. I was surprised how comfortable I felt standing on the stage. The view out into the space was a WOW. I had asked for a head-set and the sound guys had it waiting for me. We all took turns with our preferred mics. It was fun. The other tellers were warm and friendly and we encouraged each other. Lovely. Looking forward to a successful set the next day.

This was a look behind the scenes in how the festival is set up and managed. This is a huge and complex operation and it runs like a well-oiled machine. Well, this was the 37th! But in my past, I organized and managed the Audubon Holiday Fair - only two tents and 5,000 people - and so I know first hand that events like this takes patience and stamina and careful logistics to run smoothly. The staff of the National Storytelling Festival has that and more. Very impressive.

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