Last Saturday, my wife Laura and I spent the day in the beautiful city of Chillicothe, Ohio. We went down there as day tourists, and so that I could delve a little into the history of Ross County, and breath the air of the region. I thought that the time spent down there might aide me in writing more Tall Tales of Tucker, Ohio stories–a series that I am slowly building.
Upon hearing that we were from Columbus, a barista asked if we were in town for the festival, and then handed me a brochure for the Southern Ohio Storytelling Festival. I was shocked to see that a writer friend of mine was in town. Tim Tingle–a Choctaw author and storyteller from Texas–was in Chillicothe, Ohio. There I was, on a day trip to Chillicothe, and a good friend of mine from Twitter–whom I had never met–was in town, and for a Storytelling Festival nonetheless!
I messaged him, gently chiding him for sneaking into my state without telling me, and he invited us out to the event. My wife and I headed out to the Majestic Theatre, a beautiful building that was first built in 1853 as a Masonic Hall, but is now America’s oldest continuously operating theater. I was hoping to see the interior of this treasure of a building, however they were actually hosting the event in a large tent inside a grassy lot beside the building.
I got to meet Tim before he went on to tell some of his beautiful stories. I marveled at his ability to pull the audience in, and hold their attention–and sway their emotions back and forth over the spectrum. It seemed incredibly empowering.
It was a really comfortable and perfect day, and the organizers of the event did an amazing job. The audience was warm, and listened intently. Even the children in attendance were on the edges of their seats as each storyteller told their tales.
It was later that I got to speak with Tim again, and we talked about his life as a storyteller and about our writing. He even encouraged me to consider giving storytelling a try, and I am strongly considering it. It would be amazing to have the chance to tell my stories with the voice I imagine as I write the words.
It was wonderful to finally be able to meet Tim. It was like speaking with an uncle that I had never met before; he is one of the warmest people that I have ever met. We stood there in the cool night, and listened to the other storytellers.
Mike Anderson told some funny and heartwarming stories, as well as playing some beautiful songs on the Dulcimer as he continued to talk. He was extremely inspiring, with all of his talent that seemed to flow so easily through him. I spoke with him a bit, as well, and he was as friendly as he seemed on stage and laughed just as easily.
Another performer that I saw that night was Joe Herrington, a self proclaimed “Cowboy Poet”. He spoke softly, with a deep voice that matched his cowboy exterior. The poem he recited was terrific, and his storytelling was in the same league. I felt like he would be right at home on a prairie, singing by a campfire and telling a story about Pecos Bill.
I wish I could have seen more, however it only got later and I had to get going. Other performers that were in attendance included Geraldine Buckley, Andy Offut Irwin, fellow Columbusite Frank McGarvey, and Kevin Coleman, a Ross County native.
I left the festival that evening feeling extremely grateful for this chance encounter. It opened my eyes toe possibility of traveling the country and telling my stories, and showed me that it could be possible. I was mostly thankful for the Universe, gently tapping me on the shoulder … and guiding me to a friend.