‘Williams Tell’ Annual Storytelling Festival

OGDEN, Utah – Roberts, James and Edwards need not apply. This year’s Weber State University Storytelling Festival is giving Williams top billing — forgive the pun.

The 15th Annual WSU Storytelling Festival will take place Feb. 22-24, featuring a trio of national storytellers: Willy Claflin, Bill Harley and Bil Lepp. Hence the theme “Williams Tell.”

As in years past, the three-day festival will feature presentations in both Ogden and Layton for listeners of all ages. Festival events will be held at the Davis Conference Center, Ogden Eccles Conference Center, Peery’s Egyptian Theater, various local schools and across WSU’s Ogden campus. Due to Presidents Day holiday, this year’s festival will begin on a Tuesday instead of the traditional Monday start.

All events, with the exception of the annual Storytelling Festival Dinner, are free of charge.

“Thanks to the generous support of local individuals, businesses and foundations, we are able to offer all of our events to the public for free,” said festival organizer Ann Ellis.

In addition to the national storytellers, the festival also will feature performances from approximately 36 local storytellers and about 70 student storytellers from Davis, Morgan, Ogden and Weber school districts. Festival organizers hold auditions each year to choose participants. Student storytellers are selected by their individual districts to represent their schools at the festival. This is one of the few opportunities in the country for children to share their tales on the same stage as the adult storytellers.

“This provides the children a realistic experience of what it is like to be an artistic performer,” Ellis said. “Studies have shown that children who engage in storytelling tend to have more self-confidence later in life. Many get involved in drama or debate in high school and college. Studies also show it leads to improved reading comprehension.”

This year’s festival will include several on-campus presentations that have been selected to benefit WSU students and faculty in many departments. All on-campus events are open to the general public free of charge.

One of the on-campus presentations will feature four WSU professors examining the enduring, ubiquitous story of Cinderella. The presentation will include the telling of an ancient French version of Cinderella, and a collection of similar stories found in cultures around the globe. Social science professors Eric Amsel and Rosemary Conover will examine the classic tale from a psychological and anthropological perspective. The presentation also will feature a display of Cinderella-inspired pictures created by students at Polk Elementary School in Ogden. “Cinderella Ph.D.” will be held Feb. 24 at 1:30 p.m. in WSU’s Stewart Library Hetzel-Hoellein Room.

Later that evening, the popular Bedtime Stories and Campfire Tales portion of the festival will be held at the Davis Conference Center in Layton. In recognition of February being Boy Scout Month, any boy or girl scouts who come to the Campfire Tales in uniform will be eligible to win special prizes.

The WSU Storytelling Festival, first held in September 1996, is one of the few 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.

The annual storytellers’ dinner will be held Feb. 22 in the Eccles Conference Center. Guests at the dinner can meet the national storytellers. At that event, Weber County school administrator Bob Wood will receive the Karen J. Ashton Storytelling Award in recognition of his years of support for the festival, including his work as a volunteer, festival emcee and storyteller. Anyone interested in attending the dinner should contact Judith Mitchell at 801-626-6626 or jmitchell@weber.edu to purchase tickets.

Visit weber.edu/storytelling for more information about the festival, including a schedule of events and biographies on this year’s national and regional storytellers. Tickets are not required for any of the events other than the dinner, but donations are welcome.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
Ann Ellis, Storytelling Festival committee chair
801-626-7343 • aellis4@weber.edu or story@weber.edu
John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
801-626-7212 • jkowalewski@weber.edu