Storytelling Festival Breathes New Life into Ancient Art Form

OGDEN, Utah – Once upon a time, long before electronic archives and databases, encyclopedias and history books, even before written language, historical accounts were handed down through generations via the art of storytelling.

That ancient custom will be celebrated once more at Weber State University’s 12th annual Storytelling Festival, Feb. 25-27. The first two days of the festival will be held at the Megaplex 13 at the Junction Theaters (2351 Kiesel Ave., Ogden). On Feb. 27, the festival will move south to the Davis Conference Center in Layton (762 Heritage Park, Layton). Additional festival activities will be held on the WSU campus and at local schools all three days.

Festival organizers are excited about having the Megaplex 13 as a new venue this year.
“The individual auditoriums provide a wonderful setting for our school groups to hear stories,” said Ann Ellis, Storytelling Festival chair. “The theater management has been very accommodating, even adjusting the start time of some of their films so we could use the facility.”

As in past years, the 2008 festival will feature four nationally renowned storytellers:
Willy Claflin, Elizabeth Ellis, Bobby Norfolk and Dovie Thomason. Claflin and Thomason have entertained audiences at previous WSU Storytelling Festivals, while Ellis and Norfolk will be appearing for the first time. The festival will include performances from approximately 30 regional and local storytellers and more than 50 student storytellers from the Davis, Morgan, Ogden and Weber school districts. Festival organizers hold auditions every other year to choose participants. It is one of the few opportunities in the country for children to share their tales on stage.

The festival continues to grow in popularity. The festival attracted more than 14,000 visitors last year, and organizers expect this year’s audience could exceed that number.

The WSU Storytelling Festival is unique in that it is the only one in the nation sponsored by a university in partnership with local school districts. A conference format of concurrent sessions over a three-day period allows listeners to select from a variety of storytelling genres. Workshops on the art of storytelling provide an opportunity for teachers from sponsoring school districts, students and other interested adults to enhance their storytelling proficiency and strengthen their literacy skills. Another workshop will examine practical applications for storytelling skills.

“Some of our storytellers are hired by corporations to capture company histories,” Ann Ellis said. “Young attorneys also seek out storytellers to develop or hone their courtroom presentation and summation skills.”

The annual Meet the Storytellers Dinner will be held Feb. 26 in the Shepherd Union Ballroom on WSU’s Ogden campus. Tickets for this popular event are going fast. Anyone interested in attending the dinner should contact Claudia Eliason at 801-626-7719 or

Visit for more information about the festival, including a schedule of events, ticket information and biographies on this year’s national storytellers. Tickets for evening presentations are available through the Dee Events Center ticket office at 801-626-8500 or, or at the door prior to the event. Tickets for daytime presentations and all-event tickets will be available at the door.

Visit for more news about Weber State University.
John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
(801) 626-7212 •
Ann Ellis, Storytelling Festival committee chair
801-626-7343 ·