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September 12, 2008

CW's Fourth Annual Storytelling Festival features eight national, four regional storytelelrs

Eight nationally acclaimed storytellers bring their experiences that cross both cultural and geographical boundaries to Colonial Williamsburg’s fourth annual storytelling festival, “Spinning Stories/Spanning Time: A Weekend of Stories Old and New,” Sept. 19-21.

The Storytelling Festival will take place at Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Colonial Williamsburg benefactor, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby. Storytellers can be heard in individual venues throughout the grounds.

Milbre Burch is known for the versatility of her repertoire: from family-oriented folktales to sophisticated fantasy and fairy tales for teens to one-woman shows aimed at adults. Donald Davis recounts tales learned from a family of traditional storytellers who have lived on the same western North Carolina land since 1781. Susan Klein’s substantial repertoire includes selections from the world body of folklore and myth, literary stories, rites of passage and love stories for adults of all ages. Syd Lieberman is one of the country’s leading tellers of Jewish stories.

Waddie Mitchell is known for his common-sense approach to life and the art of cowboy poetry has delighted and inspired audiences. Bobby Norfolk promotes cultural diversity, self-esteem and character education through his performances. Gayle Ross tells traditional tales that the Cherokee took with them when they were forced to move west from the southeastern mountains. Valerie Tutson’s repertoire includes myths, folktales, historical pieces, stories and songs she learned in her travels to South Africa and from experiences in West Africa as well as stories from African American history.

Four regional storytellers have been invited to perform. As a writer and actress, Diane Macklin performs solo, theatrical pieces as well as traditional storytelling programs. Rich Knoblich is author of “Talking ‘bout the Relatives.” Set during visits with his family up at the old homestead in the mountains, he relates the shenanigans of believable rustic characters in modern times. Ellouise Schoettler blends memory, personal experience, folklore and myth in stories that reveal moments in the lives of ordinary people. Best known for her original Pitscreek stories, Kim Weitkamp charms the audience with her warm storytelling style that moves back and forth between stand-up comedy and heart-felt story weaving.

Guests also can enjoy four Colonial Williamsburg storytellers. Shel Browder, a journeyman blacksmith in Colonial Williamsburg’s Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop, grew up listening to tales of farmers, loggers and millworkers told around the coal stove in his family’s hardware store, family stories shared on the front porch of his grandmother’s house and his father’s stories told at the kitchen table. Art Kivel Johnson, a veteran African American interpreter with Colonial Williamsburg, is interested in historical construction of heroes and has presented sessions dramatizing history. Sharon S. Rogers believes that storytelling begins not with the teller but with a willing listener and delights children of all ages with her "critter tales." Tracey Ellis Turner, a native of Gloucester, Va., has toured as a soprano soloist and a featured dancer, and has participated as an actress in numerous international Playwrights Retreats.

In addition, the Story Keepers Project allows guests to interview a member of their family about their experiences. Guests record a 20-minute interview and receive a CD copy to take home.

A variety of festival ticket options are available. A Weekend Pass features day and evening Friday and Saturday programs, and day programs on Sunday. The Weekend Pass is $90 for adults and $42 for youth ages 6-17. Children under 6 are admitted free.

Family Packages for two adults and up to two youth include day and evening Friday and Saturday programs, day programs on Sunday. The Family Weekend Package is priced at $210. Some restrictions apply, please call 1-800-HISTORY for more details. The Wine & Cheese event is not included in the Weekend Pass or Family Package.

Individual event tickets are available for purchase. All Day Passes for day and evening programs on Friday are $49 for adults and $22 for youth ages 6-17. All Day Passes for day and evening programs on Saturday are $71 for adults and $33 for youth ages 6-17 . Day Passes for Sunday programs are $38 for adults and $16 for youth ages 6-17. Evening only tickets for Friday and Saturday can be purchased for $20 for adults and $10 for youth ages 6-17.

A Wine-and-Cheese Storytelling event is planned 6-8 p.m. Saturday night for adults only. The program features adult stories and space is limited. Cost is $35 per person, including a souvenir Colonial Williamsburg Storytelling Festival wine glass.

Guests staying at one of the official Colonial Williamsburg hotels receive 50 percent off the full purchase price of Weekend Passes and individual event tickets.

School groups are invited to attend programs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday at a cost of only $10 for teachers and $5 for students. Stories address portions of the Virginia Standards of Learning – Oral Literature for grades four through six.

For more information or to reserve your tickets, call 1-800-HISTORY or go to

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121