Virtual Storyfest is May 26-29

Posted By | May 21, 2020 6:55 am

It’s not your usual Storyfest in the Park.

This year, it’s virtual.

“The most special thing about Virtual Storyfest is that it can be enjoyed safely by everyone in their own homes,” Beth Thompson, Cookeville museums manager, said.

The virtual event – themed “Lend Us Your Online Ears” – will take place May 26-29. Performances may be viewed on the social media pages of Cookeville Storyfest, Cookeville History Museum and Cookeville Leisure Services Department (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter).

The annual event was originally scheduled to be held at Dogwood Park with attendees gathering under a big tent to experience professional storytelling by nationally known tellers from across the region. But social distancing recommendations prevented that this year.

Organizers are looking on the bright side, though.

“Our audience will be able to spend the entire week viewing the videos in their own time without having to follow a closely defined schedule,” Thompson said. “Also, if there are folks out there who haven’t gotten to enjoy Storyfest in person, this will be a terrific way to give it a try.”

How is professional storytelling different from storybook reading?

“Rather than just repeating a story, professional storytellers perform it,” Thompson said. “Many professional tellers love to revisit their own personal pasts and childhoods and really relive that memory before their audiences using vocal inflection, engaging speech patterns and plenty of body language. Some even use music to great effect. With that said, there are so many different types of professional storytelling from modern stories and tales that educate to folk stories and Jack Tales.”

Last year’s Storyfest headliner, Andy Offutt Irwin, will be among this year’s Virtual Storyfest performers. (See him show off his whistling skills at Storyfest 2019 by clicking here.) Also participating are 2019’s local amateur storytellers’ competition winner, Matt Beal, and past Storyfest favorites Peggy Fragopoulos, Charlie McCoin, Allen Dyer and more. WCTE will be contributing local stories from PBS World’s “Stories from the Stage” series.

In addition, local amateurs are invited to share videos of their stories. Submissions, not to exceed 10 minutes, must be family friendly and be told in true storytelling format (no reading from a book, no memorized monologues, no stand-up comedy, etc.). Video files or YouTube links may be emailed to

Thompson looks forward to this first-of-its-kind online experience for Cookeville’s Storyfest.

“We hope everyone will enjoy the videos and share them with their friends and families,” she said.

For more information about Virtual Storyfest, call (931) 528-8570 or (931) 520-5455.

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