Stay here for the fun today

Published 12:43 am Friday, October 9, 2009

SELMA —If you tell us there’s nothing to do here this weekend, then we’ll flat out call you a tale teller.

But not the kind you’ll get to see tonight and Saturday at the Alabama Tale-Tellin’ Festival that begins at Pickard Auditorium at 7 p.m. If you miss tonight’s performance, then make plans for Saturday at the same time. Adults will have to fork over $10 and children, 12 and under, $5 for admission. But it’s worth the price.

Here’s what you’ll get.

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First of all, there’s our own Grand Dame of Stories, Kathryn Tucker Windham. She tells stories about this, her beloved Alabama, will give you folk remedies and even jostle you a little bit with her ghost tales.

At 91 years, she hasn’t slowed down a wink. She’s a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tenn., and she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Storytelling Circle of Excellence from the National Storytelling Association. Here in her home state, Windham has been named to the University of Alabama Communication Hall of Fame and honored with the Alabama Humanities Award.

But there’s more.

Bill Harley, a regular on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” will take the stage with his stories and music. Harley has been telling and singing since he was in college back in 1975. He follows some commonsense-type rules, which include “If you’re older than two and can’t sing a song and tell a story, you’re in trouble.”

Anybody who remembers Pete Seeger from the good ole days will enjoy this retro-fitted storyteller.

Tersi Agra Bendiburg is from the very deep South. She was born in Cuba and reared in Georgia. She tells a good tale by combining the Spanish with the U.S. Southern culture. It fits. Bendiburg also uses instruments in her stories. She treats her stories as beings, not objects, and her crowd can certainly tell the difference.

And in amongst all that tale tellin’ comes some of the best toe-tappin’ music this side of Tennessee, The Dill Pickers. They are a vocal string band based out of Birmingham, but if you shut your eyes, you would think you were way up in the mountains of Kentucky or West Virginia on a back porch next to a creek overlooking tall trees.

The Dill Pickers will play it all gospel, bluegrass folk and old time string band. They are a treat not to be missed.

Now, if you’re hankering to tell a story of your own, you need to get down to Pickard Auditorium on Washington Street a little early each day, 5:30 p.m., for Swappin’ Ground. That’s for all the unprofessional tale tellers to take part in the event and warm up the crowd a little bit.

Show up much earlier in the day and you’ll have the opportunity to look over and purchase some of the best art has to offer from these parts at the Riverfront Market. This is an every-year occurrence on the second Saturday of October. It’s filed with music and smells and folks doing their art right there in front of you.

Got a Christmas list? The Riverfront Market is the place to begin that shopping. There are country crafts, jewelry, furniture, quilts, pottery, oils and watercolors by artists from right here in Selma and as far away as New York.

You don’t have to look too hard for the Riverfront Market, it’s right there as you cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Water Avenue. Actually, that’s why the market came into being. A group of folks from Selma wanted to restore and preserve historic Water Avenue, so they set up this annual festival to draw attention to the beauty and history of this riverfront thoroughfare.

Say there’s nothing to do?

Look again. We’ll see you on the street and in the auditorium.