May 9, 2013
First-ever Hatteras Storytelling Festival is a smash hit
….WITH SLIDE SHOW
By IRENE NOLAN
first-ever Hatteras Storytelling Festival was, by all accounts, a smash
hit, and it’s a sure bet that the festival will become an annual event
on the island.
The festival, which began on Friday, May 3, and
ran through Sunday, May 5, was sponsored by Our State magazine and the
Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and was organized by a group of island
volunteers, led by Lynne Foster of Hatteras village.
weather was cool and windy with occasional showers on each day of the
festival, the 185 or so folks who came to the island for the event were
warm, dry, and very enthusiastic inside the Hatteras Village Civic
The performances by renowned writers, storytellers, and
musicians were loosely bound by a kind of coastal, maritime thread, but
there was no requirement that the individual stories and performances
pertain specifically to Hatteras village—or even Hatteras Island.
Ultimately, that meant that there was 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 brought 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 from 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 pirate Blackbeard.
of the headliners was enthusiastically received by the audience, who
came from all parts of North Carolina and several other states.
of the attendees were either first-time visitors to Hatteras or folks
who had a connection to the island but had not visited for a long time,
Festival-goers also were treated to locals,
including musicians Clifford Swain, Banjo Island, Jessie Taylor, and
Rory Kelleher, and storytellers Dixie Browning, Carol Dillon, James
Charlet, and poet Nathan Snead.
tickets for the event were $75 per day or $100 for the weekend, the
local storytellers appeared at a session, moderated by Hatteras Island
historian Danny Couch, on Sunday afternoon that was free and open to
Also two of the performers gave private performances
for the students at the two Cape Hatteras schools. Regan-Blake
performed at the Cape Hatteras Secondary School, and Cherry performed
for the students at Cape Hatteras Elementary School.
to providing fun and entertaining events, the festival was tailored
to bring visitors to the island during the “shoulder” season that can
sometimes be slow for business.
The schedule was arranged to
give participants plenty of time to visit local attractions, shop at
stores, and dine in restaurants.
The goal of the organizers was
not only to bring in business for a weekend but to introduce new folks
to Hatteras Island in the hope that they will return not only for the
next storytelling festival but for other vacations during the year.
Foster said there will be a second annual storytelling contest in early May of 2014. So stay tuned for the details.
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