April 1, 2013
First-ever Hatteras Storytelling Festival will be May 3-5
By JORDAN TOMBERLIN
month, Hatteras village will welcome an assortment of renowned writers,
storytellers, and musicians—including both local and non-local
talent—as it plays host to the first-ever Hatteras Storytelling
The three-day event, which will be on Friday, May 3,
through Sunday, May 5, came about when the editors of Our State
magazine contacted the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and expressed
interested in organizing a storytelling festival on Hatteras Island.
long after that, Lee Nettles, the executive director of the Visitors
Bureau, contacted Hatteras resident Lynne Foster—the brains behind the
beloved Day at the Docks celebration—and asked if she would be
interested in getting a group of people together who could bring the
festival to fruition.
“Silly me,” Foster joked, “I said yes.”
sometime early this winter, Foster organized a 10-person committee, and
the group got to work, contacting performers, gathering sponsors,
rounding up volunteers, and hashing out the details.
been a daunting undertaking, but Foster said she’s excited about the
results. “It’s not going to be the traditional storytelling event
that everyone’s familiar with,” she said. “We’re doing it
But just because it’s being done
“Hatteras-style”—and just because the event will feature local
entertainers—doesn’t mean the program is Hatteras-centric.
performances will be loosely bound by a kind of coastal, maritime
thread, but there’s no requirement that the individual stories and
performances pertain specifically to Hatteras village—or even Hatteras
Ultimately, that means that there is something for just about everyone.
festival headliners—Connie Regan-Blake, Clyde Edgerton, Bland Simpson,
Tom Carlson, and Ben Cherry—are all accomplished performers, and each
of them brings something special to the festival.
Regan-Blake is a critically acclaimed and award-winning storyteller
from Asheville, N.C. She has performed in 47 states, 16 countries, and
regularly entertains audiences at the nation’s top storytelling
Clyde Edgerton is a popular and award-winning
writer from Wilmington, N.C. He has written 10 novels and frequently
contributes to national publications. He is also a creative
writing professor in UNC-Wilmington’s MFA program.
Simpson is another popular North Carolina author. An Elizabeth City
native, Simpson has become an authority on the mysteries, geography and
culture of Eastern North Carolina. He is also an accomplished pianist
and has played with the Tony Award-winning string band, The Red Clay
Ramblers, since 1987. He teaches English and creative writing at
Tom Carlson taught creative nonfiction and
American literature for 32 years at the University of Memphis. Though
he’s the only headliner who doesn’t hail form North Carolina, Carlson
has a special connection to the island.
He spent more than
five years immersing himself in the legend, lore, and local flavor of
Hatteras village for his 2005 book, “Hatteras Blues: A Story from the
Edge of America,” which tells the story of Ernal Foster, the Foster
family, and the birth of the charter fishing industry.
Cherry is a business owner and storyteller from Plymouth, N.C. On
stage, Cherry transforms into the infamous Blackbeard. He has performed
for audiences all over the country, and his thoroughly researched and
meticulously staged performances are so spot-on, you’d swear you were
sitting on the deck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
will also experience entertainment from local performers, including
musicians Clifford Swain, Banjo Island, Jessie Taylor, and Rory
Kelleher, storytellers Dixie Browning, Carol Dillon, and Robbie
Scarborough, and poet Nathan Snead.
The festivities will begin
Friday morning, when two of the performers give private performances
for the students at the two Cape Hatteras schools. Regan-Blake will
perform for the students at the Cape Hatteras Secondary School, and
Cherry will perform for the students at Cape Hatteras Elementary
Though those performances are not open to the public,
they were important to Foster. “They’re part of the community service
that we wanted to include [in the festival],” she said.
Friday evening is when the festival really kicks off.
At 4 p.m., Belinda Willis will host a wine tasting event at Lee Robinson General Store.
at 7 p.m., at the Hatteras Village Civic Center, David Perry, the
former editor of UNC Press, will introduce the first storytellers—Bland
Simpson and Clyde Edgerton.
At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Ben Cherry (aka Blackbeard) will perform at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.
next performance—Tom Carlson and Clifford Swain—is scheduled for 2-3:30
p.m. at the Hatteras Village Civic Center. The final performance
on Saturday will be Connie Regan-Blake and Banjo Island, scheduled for
7 p.m., also at the Hatteras Village Civic Center.
out the festival on Sunday afternoon will be a panel discussion on
local lore moderated by local historian Danny Couch. The discussion
will start at 2 p.m. and will feature John Morgan, Dixie Browning,
Carol Dillon, and Robbie Scarborough.
Also at the discussion,
local musicians Jessie Taylor and Rory Kelleher will perform original
songs, and Nathan Snead, who earned an MFA in creative writing from
East Carolina University, will read from a collection of poems he wrote
Foster said that the schedule was
intentionally arranged in a way that would give festival-goers an
opportunity to explore Hatteras—to visit local shops, eat at local
restaurants, and patronize local businesses. After all, “this is
more than just a fun, entertaining festival,” Foster said. “It’s also a
recovery effort—a way to encourage people to come back, and maybe, to
visit for the first time.”
To help facilitate their exploration,
Couch, who also owns Hatteras Island Tours, will be providing
village-wide transportation to festival attendees on Friday and
In addition, several local motels and hospitality
businesses are participating in ticket packages that will allow
out-of-town visitors to purchase tickets and secure accommodations in
Hatteras village in one transaction—and often at a discounted rate.
a goal for the festival is to maximize shoulder-season traffic, Foster
said she hopes that locals will take advantage of the festival as well,
and said she would encourage anyone who would like to attend to
purchase tickets now, as there are only a total of 350 tickets
available, and there are no guarantees that any will be sold at the
Tickets are $75 per day for Friday and Saturday, or $100
for a weekend pass. The panel discussion on Sunday is free and open to
the public. Tickets can only be purchased online, through
brownpapertickets.com—or by clicking the link on the event website—and
they will not be sold for individual performances.
Links to ticket sales and accommodation packages—as well as more information
on the schedule of events and the performers—are available on the
event’s website, www.hatterasyarns.org.