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Pioneer, stories at the forefront

The late journalist and storytelling pioneer Kathryn Tucker Windham touched many hearts through her words of wisdom and storytelling techniques. Having died in her home at the age of 93 in June, the icon left an indelible impression on the lives of young and old alike, bringing people of all backgrounds together.

In honor of her life and legacy, the 33rd Alabama Tale-Tellin Festival on Oct. 14 and 15, which Windham founded, will pay tribute to Windham’s “twice-blessed” life with stories, memories, songs and an “I’ll Fly Away” comb concert.

Festival chair Ann Thomas said it’s “extremely” important to remember Windham and her contributions at this year’s festival.

“We need to stay in touch with each other and remember the funny times in life and that’s what you do in telling stories and that’s what she wanted, to be able to communicate with one another,” Thomas said. “And I think when we tell our stories we have more in common than differences … she was so gracious and kind, many of the things she talked about I could remember growing up; we’ll celebrate her legacy with the theme, ‘she’s not lost because we remember.’”

The event will begin at 7 p.m. Swappin grounds will open at 5:30 p.m. and anyone with a story can participate. Birmingham’s The Dill Pickers, one of Windham’s favorite bands, will headline the event with storytellers Wanda Johnson, a Prichard native and Anndrena Belcher, a Kentucky native. Food will also be available.

Taking place in a new location, the Carneal ArtsRevive Building, on the corner of Water Avenue and Church Street, ArtsRevive members felt the change of location would be ideal.

“This building is now available and had not been available before — we own it,” Thomas said. “When we took Wanda Johnson and Dill Pickers to see it, they thought it be an ideal venue because they could be closer to their audience, which storytellers like to do … we’re excited that this location will provide a smaller but more intimate setting for storytelling, which is the way storytelling is meant to be.”

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12. The public can purchase tickets prior to the event at the Selma-Dallas County Center for Commerce, Selma-Dallas County Public Library, Truax & Co. or by calling 878-ARTS. The public can mail in their personal memories of Windham by Oct. 1 to ArtsRevive, P.O. Box 2548, Selma, AL 36702. Thomas encourages interested individuals to purchase tickets in advance as the venue is smaller and space is limited.

Members also encourage the public to attend Riverfront Market Day Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Water Avenue.

The event will host arts, crafts and music among other attractions.
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