West Virginia Storytelling Guild

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WV Storytelling Guild History

The West Virginia Storytelling Guild has been a part of the state's culture since October 1996, when the very first West Virginia Storytelling Festival was held at Jackson's Mill, WV. 
Prior to that, however, the storytellers of West Virginia were working hard to keep the cultural art of storytelling from slipping into the oblivion of time.  Through their hard work, a time-honed craft has been saved for future generations. 
The Twelfth Annual West Virginia Storytelling Festival took place as the others have, at Jackson's Mill, WV.  There, among scenery that includes fall foliage, log cabins, lakes, and a grist mill, visitors will be able to partake in the many programs during the 2008 festivities.
Recent developments have caused the creation of West Virginia storytelling events all over the state.  While the Jackson's Mill Festival is no longer hosting the WV State Storytelling Festival, it still takes place every October.  At any time of year, you will be able to find a storytelling venue or event near you in West Virginia.  For more information, please visit our Current Events Calendar.


The very first storytelling festival took place on October 11-13, 1996.  The festival included three main storytelling locations - the Assembly Hall, the West Virginia Building, and the Tent on the Green.  In addition, the Resource Sales Area allowed visitors to purchase cds and books by their favorite tellers.  Other souvenirs such as t-shirts, hats, and information are also available there. 
At the very first WV Storytelling Festival, there were a total of 38 storytellers from all over the state and the Appalachian region.  They told stories from many genres, including stories with music, ethnic & cultural stories, ghost tales, urban & classic legends, oral histories, Chautaqua performances, fairy tales, jack tales, nature fables, and of course a performance by the State Liar's Contest Winner.
To see scans of documents from the First Annual West Virginia Storytelling Festival, click here.
The first WV Storytelling Festival included performances & appearances by: 
Anndrena Belcher from Gate City, VA
Mary Carter Smith of Baltimore, MD
Ed Stivender of Philadelphia, PA
Jeanne S. Carter from Wheeling, WV
James Casto of Huntington,WV
Karen Vuranch of Fayetteville, WV
Joseph Bundy of Bluefield, WV
The Hill Lorists (Dr. Judy P. Byers, John H. Randolph, and Noel W. Tenney) from Fairmont, WV
The Tale Spinners (Rich Knoblich & Harve Tannenbaum) of Wheeling, WV 
Paul and Bil Lepp, WV Liar's Contest Winners
Lucy Jackson Bayles of Morgantown, WV
Bonnie Collins of West Union, WV
Betty Cross of Morgantown, WV
Ilene Evans from Thomas, WV
Jack Feller of Mullens, WV
Andy Fraenkel from Wheeling, WV
Jodi French from Lansing, WV
Reid Gilbert of Thomas, WV
Joy Gilchrist of Alum Bridge, WV
Ellesa High from Bruceton Mills, WV
Cleta Long from Parsons, WV
Tish McKenzie from Clarksville, NY
Phyllis Marks from Elkins, WV
Gerry Milnes from Elkins, WV
Ibrahim Iba N'Diaye from Morgantown, WV
Marylou Rush of Hinton, WV
Glen Smith of Elkins, WV
Fritz Turner from Beaver, WV
Ann Ours of Morgantown, WV
Ed Cabbell of Morgantown, WV
Bill Hairston from Charleston, WV
Keith McManus from Morgantown, WV
Tim & Linda Mainland of Athens, WV
Rebecca Rankin of Washington, PA