This week is the 31st annual Storytelling Festival in St. Louis. It is my understanding this is the largest free storytelling festival in the country. Stories are told at a variety of locations in the metropolitan area.
For the third year I volunteered at the festival. I was assigned to work at the Old Courthouse location doing crowd control. What a fancy way of saying I told the kids to sit in rows on the floor! Most of the time, the kids are well-behaved. Occasionally you have a group who must have eaten wiggle worms for breakfast because they’re really restless, want to leave to go to the restroom, must talk to their teacher … all while a storyteller is trying to keep their attention.
Attendance was down this year. The principle reason for this, we think, is because the public schools cut out funding for buses to bring children to the festival. I noticed most of the groups which came to the Old Courthouse were from private parochial schools. I really admired one school. The mothers/teachers brought clothesbaskets filled with the stuff for a picnic lunch. After listening to a story, they took the kids across the street to a small park where they had their lunch and could run off some of their energy. What a wise group of adults!
I’m happy to report that this year I heard a different story from each storyteller. Last year, I heard the same story told by various storytellers. One story this year was a hoot. It was about Pirate Joe who took the dirty socks from all the people on the ships he captured. These flew from the riggings on his ship.
But one day he stopped a ship that was flying dirty underwear. It turned out the female pirate on that ship was his sister! And like most older sisters, she was bossy and insisted on taking his underwear too. This story was told in rhyme and was a delight.
There is a big storytelling “concert” tonight but I think I’m going to have to skip it. The weather has been very fierce with severe storms and tornados after dark. I really would prefer to be home if that’s what we’re having, not 30 miles away at a concert.