By Fran Edstrom, columnist
My mom used to tell us bedtime stories that were the brainchild of her creative mind. They were about a small person as big as my thumb. She was a great problem solver, inventor and adventurer. And, she had curly red hair, blue eyes and freckles, just like me! She also had a brother and three sisters, all tiny like our fingers.
I told stories about the same characters to my kids, but I don’t think they were as good as my mom’s. I guess with her stories, she shared with us her hopes that we would be strong, independent people. And as far as I know, she shared other values as well, but I was a kid, what did I know? I loved the stories about Tiny Tootsie.
I read an excellent book simply called “Ireland” by Frank Delaney. It was a traveling storyteller in the late 19th and early 20th century, a shanachie. He traveled, mostly on foot, from place to place and found room and board with a local family. This family then invited neighbors near and far to listen to the stories. They could be tales from the history of Ireland, or maybe he would pass on myths and legends, fairy tales.
Since the predominantly rural population was generally illiterate and books were reserved only for the wealthy and clergymen, the shanachie were the only way for people to learn their history and news from other rural areas. and government.
Oral storytelling has fallen out of practice, as print and electronic media serve the purpose of the ancient shanachie. One particularly good practitioner, Garrison Keillor, retired in disgrace, but fortunately there are many others who can rival him.
Five of these professional storytellers will be in Winona the weekend of October 14-15 for the inaugural Sandbar Storytelling Festival. The range is impressive.
Bil Lepp is a five-time winner of the West Virginia Liars pageant. (Now that should be a hoot!)
Carolina Quiroga-Stultz explores indigenous Latin American and Hispanic myths, legends and mysteries in English and Spanish.
Reverend Robert Jones Sr. shares the history, humor and power of American Roots – African American and American traditional music.
Alton Takiyama-Chung shares Hawaiian island legends, history and ghost stories.
Regi Carpenter tells stories about the lives of four generations of his family living on the St. Lawrence River, including underwater tea parties, drowning lessons and trips to the dump!
It’s a chance not only to be well entertained, but also to discover the almost lost art of storytelling. It may help you remember the stories told to you by your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and you will tell them to your own children and grandchildren.
In addition to public presentations, which will include food and concerts, there will also be workshops in schools given by the professionals.
This is an event not to be missed, and maybe the start of something big!
See full details and how to buy tickets at sandbarstorytellingfestival.org.