The Southern Appalachian oral art of storytelling has been a feature of the annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Ga., over the years. This year, storytelling will have an even more significant presence at the festival with the National Storytelling Network (NSN) awarding the 2015 Bear Festival the designation as this year’s Southeast Regional Spotlight Event for Storytelling.
With the designation, the NSN has approved a grant of $1,000 to the Atlanta-headquartered Southern Order of Storytellers to use to strengthen its participation on Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, at this year’s 19th Annual Bear Festival. Debbie Weston From, a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers (SOS) who is also a member of the Bear Festival committee, said that in addition to performances by several local and regional storytellers, SOS is bringing in National Storyteller
to the Zak McConnell Stage at Hancock Park. A West Virginia resident, Booth will share stories at three of the festival’s storytelling sessions and will lead a workshop at Bear. Booth will also emcee the Appalachian Story Slam Saturday night of the festival that will feature students from University of North Georgia’s Appalachian Studies program.
Other sponsors of the Southeastern Regional Spotlight Event, in addition to NSN and Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., are Southern Order of Storytellers, Chestatee Regional Library and Georgia Appalachian Studies Center.
Booth, who is a storyteller, musician and educator, is a four-time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest and winner of storytelling contests in three other states, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. He appeared at the Exchange Place Stage at the 2011 National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., and he was a featured panelist at the 2012 National Storytelling Conference in Cincinnati.
Each year, Dahlonega’s Bear on the Square Festival celebrates the culture of the Southern Appalachians through the presentation of music, traditional craft and folkways. Held in and around Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square, the 2015 festival will get underway with pre-event activities starting around mid-day on Friday, April 17. Early-arriving local and visiting pickers will begin the popular jamming on the square, which will go on all weekend. The other Friday event will be the Live and Silent Country Auction that night in the MainStage Tent. A juried Artists Marketplace on Saturday and Sunday features traditional mountain crafts and artist demonstrations. Other highlights of the event include MainStage musical performances by old-time and bluegrass performers, storytelling, more jamming on the square, kids’ activities, and free music workshops/demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday; an Acoustic Open Mic event, dance team demonstrations, and an Old-Time Mountain Dance on Saturday; and a Gospel Jam and Master Music Classes on Sunday. For more details about the festival, including the complete lineup of performers and artists, schedules, event locations, festival sponsors, and updates between now and the event, visit the festival website.