Morning performance features three storytellers, shorter performance time

The Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival, featuring three world renowned storytellers, is finally here, Saturday, June 1st. This annual event is sponsored by the three Rotary Clubs in Oak Ridge and will be held at the Historic Grove Theatre.  Due to public demand at the 2018 performances, a larger venue and an additional performance have been added.

Bil LeppCarmen Agra Deedy, and Bobby Norfolk, “A” list performers in the storytelling world, will perform for the 2019 festival. They have achieved national and international recognition and appear regularly at festivals, including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

If you can’t spend the afternoon or evening, come to the morning performance from 10:00 a.m. to noon.  Although the stories would be rated PG, it is suggested that the 10:00 a.m. performance would be most enjoyable for children five and older. A free crafts-for-kids activity will be offered beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Grove Theater.

The afternoon is from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.  and evening performance is from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.  with different stories at each session.

Tickets are available at the door. The 10 a.m. show tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 5-18. Tickets for the 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. shows are $25 for each show.

The storytelling weekend kicks off this Friday, May 31, from 1 to 4 p.m. with a writing workshop. There are still tickets left for storyteller Minton Sparks return to conduct a three-hour interactive writing workshop, “My Crazy Kin—Transform Your Family Stories into a Compelling Personal Narrative.” Let Minton help you craft your own story from your family history and experiences and structure it for effectiveness.

“Wow, do I have a story for you! Learn how to transform your personal experiences into a compelling narrative. What’s your story? That’s what we will discover in this writing workshop,” Minton explains.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Flatwater Tale’s Community Partner, the Historic Grove Theater, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Restoration of portions of the theater will include the building’s exterior wall. Featured will be historic photos of Oak Ridge from the collection of the late Oak Ridge photographer Ed Westcott.


“The Festival’s goals are to help bring our community together, introduce people to Oak Ridge, support local economic activity, and celebrate and support the clubs’ community projects, “said Emily Jernigan, Flatwater Tales chair and former Breakfast Rotary president. “We expect to grow Flatwater Tales to include local and regional lore, music, and history, and to help share the Oak Ridge story – past, present, and future – with a wider audience. We want to expand our storytelling training to include helping children find their voices using this age-old art form.”

For those who want to spend the Flatwater Festival weekend in Oak Ridge, rooms are reserved at a group rate at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel of Oak Ridge. Visit the hotel’s web page or call the hotel directly at 865-481-2468 and refer to the group code: FTS.

Who are these internationally acclaimed storytellers? Meet them:

Bil Lepp, an acclaimed teller from Charleston, WV, and 5-time winner of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, takes listeners on a winding, incredulous path before tying up all the loose ends in a neat, fantastical package. He tells humorous, imaginative tales, and says that while all the details may not be accurate, the feelings are always honest.

Carmen Agra Deedy, an award-winning author and teller from Decatur, Georgia, is a renown children’s author and storyteller. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1964. As a mother and storyteller, she has written numerous books and is the recipient of many national awards. Writing and telling stories for children for over two decades, she has been the invited speaker at The American Library Association, Refugees International, The Smithsonian, TED, The Kennedy center and many others.

Bobby Norfolk is an internationally known story performer and teaching artist, three-time Emmy award winner and Storytelling Oracle Awards recipient. Born in an impoverished area in St. Louis, he overcame a debilitating stutter by entering a fourth-grade poetry contest. He later became a stand-up comedian, a National Park Service Ranger and storyteller.

Tickets are now on sale on the Festival’s Facebook page and website,, and at The Ferrell Shop in Oak Ridge. For more information on Flatwater Tales visit their website or email

“If you can’t go to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough be sure to come to the Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival in Oak Ridge.”