A Message from Your President

Happy New Year!

VASA’s last fiscal year 2017-18 was an exciting year for storytelling in Virginia. It has been a stated goal of the Board of Directors for several years to support storytelling venues around the state in hopes that no one should have to travel more than an hour to see professional quality storytelling at least once a year. With that goal in mind; this past year was a banner year.

September 2017, Sheila Arnold Jones and Darci Tucker produced their 8th Annual Tucker-Arnold Storytelling Workshop in Williamsburg with Bill Harley as the workshop leader. The Saturday night concert featured Bill Harley, Sheila Arnold Jones, – and yours truly -as the Master of Ceremonies. Donald Davis will be the 2018 workshop leader and Jim Lavender is scheduled to be the Master of Ceremonies.

Last September, Jim Lavender invited fellow VASA members Les Schaffer, Donna Will, Deborah Alsko, Ruth Walkup and yours truly to tell at” Field Days of the Past” in Rockville, Va. (just west of Richmond) Jim has asked me to facilitate the storytelling tent for 2018, so I’ll be offering an invitation to the membership at large to tell.

In October, Marie McGranahan-Turner and I were tent monitors at The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, TN. Mylinda Butterworth served on our team staffing the tent. If you volunteer for one 5-hour session you get to come one day for free, if you work two 5-hour sessions you get a FREE pass for the whole weekend. If you’d like to volunteer this October contact me (gayle@storytellerschannel.com) and I’ll do my best to get you on a crew.

The first Saturday in November, the Chincoteague Cultural Arts Center held a storytelling event with Donald Davis leading a workshop and performing. We’re hoping tis will become an annual event.

In January, there were two collaborative storytelling festivals: Sheila Arnold Jones- produced the Stories: From Sea to Shore festival at First Baptist Church of Norfolk; and Storytellers Channel produced the Hearts Afire Storytelling Festival at Westminster-Canterbury Retirement Community and Richmond’s First Baptist Church. This was the second year for both festivals. Both events featured Bil Lepp, Tyris D. Jones and Sarah Brady.

Dolores Hydock will be the headliner for 2019.

March 9-11 the Annual Virginia Storytelling Gathering was held in conjunction- with Culpeper Tells at The Culpeper Baptist Church. Les Schaffer and Solveig Eggerz led workshops after which participants were divided into coaching groups led by Beth Ohlsson, Jessica Piscitelli Robinson of Better Said than Done, Jim Lavender and Lynn Ruehlmann. All participants then went to the Culpeper Storytelling Sessions featuring Charlotte Blake Alston, Ed Stivender and Josh Goforth.

On Sunday morning we held the annual membership meeting and then ended the Gathering with Sacred Stories and Puns.

Saturday April 14, Shenandoah Storytelling Guild hosted the 9th Mountain Mack Virginia Liars Contest in the basement of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Staunton. This was the second year in a row that the room was SRO. Gary Buchanan (from West Virginia) was first place winner, Les Schaffer (from Richmond) won second place and Phil Peason (from Staunton) won third place. Gary and Les are both VASA members.

Two weeks later, Sounds of the Mountains, the longest running festival in the state saw Kevin Kling, Jim May, Odds Bodkins and our own Sheila Arnold, along with The Company Store band, entertain over a 1,000 folks. Past VASA Presidents, Donna Will and Louise Tucciarone, and Marie McGranahan-Turner and I staffed the resource table and raised $400 for VASA by selling the tellers’ CDs and books.

As it has done for several years, VASA hosted the Story Swap at Sounds and Louise Tucciarone served as MC.

Ruth Walkup, who organized the Gathering this year, also conducted a survey of the membership. One of the major findings was that VASA members wanted an opportunity to spend time together and work on the craft of storytelling. To that end, we arranged for Elizabeth Ellis to spend Friday, June 8 through Sunday, June 10 with participating VASA members at Whippoorwill Manor Farm in Madison, VA.

Those are the highlights from 2017-18. In my next message, I’ll talk about a Vision for the Future. Until then, it is an honor to serve as your President.

Gayle Turner