Tale Tellin’ Fest starts today

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

The Selma Times Journal

You live in Selma?

Well, you live in the Official Tale Tellin’ Capitol of Alabama.

Former Gov. Fob James declared it so, and Kathryn Tucker Windham wants you to stand behind your Tale Tellin’ Capitol and come on out to the Alabama Tale-Tellin’ Festival.

The event runs today and Saturday at the Pickard Auditorium on Washington Street.

Swappin’ Ground for all ages with a story to tell begins at 5:30 p.m. and Tale Tellin’ begins at 7 both evenings.

Now in its 27th year, the festival will feature Windham, Alabama’s premier storyteller, as emcee and storyteller.

Also featured will be nationally recognized storytellers, Carmen Agra Deedy and Dan Keding.

Deedy is a native of Cuba and has authored several best-selling children’s books.

Her stories have aired on National Public Radio.

Keding has been a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., like the other two storytellers.

He accompanies himself on guitar, banjo, and spoons, and tells world folktales, ghost stories and personal narratives of his boyhood in Chicago.

“It’s one of the finest events that occurs anywhere and that it happens in Selma,” Windham said. “There are so many flavors of storytelling – it’s a great mixture that captures the imagination.”

This event is a family thing – “but not just for children,” she said. “Man began to tell stories before he did anything else. Before music or art, he told stories.”

Windham has written more than 20 books about ghosts and Southern cooking and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Storytelling Association. The University of Alabama inducted her into the Communication Hall of Fame.

Dallas County’s late Probate Judge and Mrs. Bernard (Bea) Reynolds had the idea to begin the festival in Selma after attending the National Storytelling Festival.

Windham, who tells her ghost stories, folk remedies and anecdotes about the world around her at both festivals, has been an official of the Alabama Tale-Tellin’ Festival since its inception in 1978.

“The population of Jonesborough is 3,500,” Windham said. “For the storytelling weekend in Tennessee, the population swells to 15,000.

They have it in circus tents and it is a great event.”

Jonesborough has a large annual budget for its storytelling festival, a substantial headquarters, and charges more than $400 for a family up to five participating in the entire weekend schedule.

In Selma, ticket prices to the event are $10 for adults and $5 for children aged 12 and under.

“We just pray that we’ll break even every year,” Windham said.

“It’s never been our intention to make money off

this. We just want to entertain the public.”

Selma’s festival began in an alley off Water Avenue and surprised the sponsors who had expected maybe 50 to attend. About 1,000 arrived.

The event was moved to Bloch Park, then the National Guard Armory, before landing at the Pickard Auditorium of the Selma School of Discovery.

“Tell ’em this,” Windham said.

“Y’all come!”