February 24, 2014
Popular Hatteras Storytelling Festival returns May 2-4
By LARA RIZZUTI
May, renowned writers, storytellers, and musicians from all across the
state will gather in Hatteras village to delight crowds with tales of
life, legacy, and lore as part of the second annual Hatteras
The three-day event, scheduled for Friday
through Sunday, May 2-4, this year, is brimming with performances by
both local and regional talent, ample opportunity to indulge in the
local cuisine and fresh seafood, and, to top it all off, the boundless
beauty of Hatteras Island.
“Location, location, location,”
emphasized Belinda Willis, the co-organizer of the event and owner of
Lee Robinson’s General Store. “This, and the fact that the Outer
Banks has so many of its own stories, really sets this festival apart
from the rest.”
Surrounded by resplendent beaches and immersed
within a culture still deeply rooted in the storytelling tradition, the
festival’s location provides quite the incentive to attend and, in
fact, played a large hand in its conception.
Well before the
inaugural event in May 2013, the editors of Our State magazine
recognized the region’s potential to support such an event and
contacted the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau with their interest in
sponsoring a storytelling festival on Hatteras Island.
Nettles, the executive director of the Visitors Bureau, called upon the
leadership and expertise of Hatteras resident and Day at the Docks
founder Lynne Foster, hoping to set the project in motion.
formed a committee to help organize the event and, together, they faced
the challenge of creating and then producing a unique and authentic
storytelling festival - one with a bit of “Hatteras-style”
And the result was a huge hit.
attracted about 250 festivalgoers and received an outpouring of support
from local businesses and members of the community, through both
donations and participation.
The first festival pioneered an entirely new tradition in Hatteras village.
Shisler and Belinda Willis, the festival’s current organizers, were
thrilled with its initial success and hope to cultivate and expand the
event as it matures.
“The storytelling festival is a way to
bring people to the island during the shoulder-season,” explains
Shisler. “We want to boost the economy and, also, introduce
people to the beauty of Hatteras Island.”
Last year, the event
provided an influx of visitors to the island, which boosted sales and
revenue for businesses within the community during the typical lull
between Easter weekend and the summer.
Willis recognized the value of this economic stimulus and incorporated
a handful of changes this year to increase attendance and the potential
for a spike in sales on the island.
In this pursuit, A Taste of
the Village – an event highlighting the village’s restaurants and local
cuisine -- will be held in conjunction with festival registration at
the Community Building.
Additionally, Shisler and Willis felt
that they needed to attract visitors beyond the initial range of
awareness, beyond the island. They took advantage of social media
by creating a Facebook page for the event and published advertisements
through Our State and a range of other news outlets.
State magazine has such a broad-reaching readership,” elaborates
Shisler. “And one of the goals of the magazine is to help
communities sustain themselves -- to publicize all the amazing little
towns in North Carolina that would be worthwhile for visitors to come
and support the local economy.
They also opted to include more musical acts into the festival.
lot of bluegrass, and quite a bit of gospel, is really just
storytelling in music form,” said Shisler. “As you listen to the
lyrics, you know you’re getting a story.”
Many of the storytellers will sing, dance, and play instruments throughout their performances, too.
aside from a few new events focusing specifically on Hatteras Island,
the storytellers and musicians are given complete artistic license over
the theme and structure of their performances at the festival.
are not given a specific topic or theme, but, the fact that all of the
artists are from North Carolina will likely act as a common thread
linking the various performances. Though, each will undoubtedly bring a
unique perspective, area of interest, and style to the festival.
There are some new faces amongst the festival’s headliners this year.
Duffus is an award-winning filmmaker, author, and researcher based in
Raleigh, N.C. His extensive research on the Outer Banks has
eradicated historical inaccuracies regarding Blackbeard and solved the
mystery of the 1854 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Fresnel lens.
Kemp is a local historian and historical preservation advocate from
Morehead City, N.C. Kemp is renowned as a “fish house liar” for
his abundant supply of tall tales, but in 2003, he was named the North
Carolina Historian of the Year for his work with Carteret County Museum
of History and Art.
James Charlet is another local historian and
author from Hatteras Island. He taught North Carolina history for
24 years and worked in historic interpretation at several of the Outer
Banks’ historic sites, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Currently, Charlet serves as the historic site manager of the
Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site &
The event will also feature
performances by storytellers Clyde Edgerton, Bland Simpson, Clifford
Swain, and Ben Cherry and bluegrass groups Banjo Island and Nu-Blu.
festivities will begin with a private event on Friday as Blackbeard –
or Ben Cherry in disguise – thrills the Cape Hatteras Elementary School
students with tales of life aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
At 5 p.m., festival registration will be paired with a sampling of the village’s finest foods at the Community Building.
Later in the evening, Kevin Duffus and Clyde Edgerton are scheduled to perform at the Hatteras Village Civic Center.
Saturday, events begin at 10 a.m. with a library presentation for
preschool and elementary students and will come to a close at 10:30
p.m. following a Blue Grass Concert.
Sunday’s festivities will focus primarily on Hatteras and will consist of gospel music and an afternoon of local stories.
“Basically, we want Sunday to tell our stories,” explains Willis. “It’ll be strictly local, Hatteras Island storytelling.”
and Willis hope that their alterations will have a positive effect on
the festival so that it may continue to gain recognition and bring more
shoulder-season traffic to the community.
Tickets are $75
for the entire weekend, or $35 and $40 per day for Friday and Saturday,
respectively. Tickets are also available to attend only the Blue
Grass concert or events on Sunday. They may be purchased via mail
– by clicking the registration form link on the website -- or by
calling Jan Willis at 252-986-2109.
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.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SLIDE SHOW FROM THE 2013 STORYTELLING FESTIVAL