Bristol Hills Storytelling Festival brings tales to life

Festival brings nationally known storytellers to Elkhart County for 25 years. 

Posted on Aug. 26, 2014 at 3:00 a.m.

Come, sit, listen and laugh as nationally known storytellers Bil Lepp and Beth Horner take your imagination away to other times and places at the 25th annual Bristol Hills Storytelling Festival.

The festival offers two evenings of entertainment at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6 at the Elkhart County Historical Museum, 304 W. Vistula St. in Bristol.

Beth Horner’s goal as a storyteller is to entertain and to encourage her listeners to dip into the wealth of their own imaginations.

“When you watch a story on television or in a movie theater, you see one person’s (the film maker’s) depiction of an image – of a monster, a prince or an enraged tiger eating a buffalo chip. When you hear a story, you create that image yourself,” said Horner. “When I’m telling stories to 50 different people, there are 50 different movies going on in the minds of listeners. Nothing is as powerful as your own imagination.”

Growing up in a family where it was the responsibility of the listener to decide whether or not a story was true, Bil Lepp became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age. Be it a plunger, a hunting trip or a funeral, Bil can find the humor in any situation. His stories often start as personal experiences, move toward outrageous and then become hysterically unbelievable. Yet they still contain morsels of truth and wisdom. True life of true lie? You might never know.

The Bristol Hills Storytelling Festival has brought world famous storytellers to the Elkhart area the first weekend of September, after Labor Day, for 25 years. It is sponsored by the Northern Indiana Storytelling Guild, which strives to preserve, foster and enhance the art of storytelling through education and performance.

“It’s been a joy to select and bring the talented storytellers to Congdon Park, and later to partner with the Elkhart County Historical Museum,” said Kathy Case. She and her husband, Frank, have lead the festival for five years, continuing the tradition begun in 1989 by Ken and Iris Guy, and carried on in 1998 by Bob and Kathie Myers.

“The appreciation and enjoyment of festival audiences is a wonderful reward for all the planning and work that the core of volunteers has contributed,” said Case.

The Featured Storytelling by Bil Lepp and Beth Horner will begin at 7 p.m. both evenings. Admission is $10. Stories are family-oriented and suitable for ages 12 and up. The stories will be different each night.

The Swapping Ground precedes the Featured Telling at 5:30 p.m. with local informal audience participation and is open to anyone wishing to share or just listen to a story.

The Swapping Grounds provides an opportunity for interested people to tell a story in front of a supportive audience.

“Come and tell your true, funny, tall tale or personal story that goes between ‘Once upon a time’ and ‘the end,” said Case. “Be brave, have fun, and give your story wings in the Swapping Ground.”

The museum will be open during the Storytelling Festival. Visitors are encouraged to browse the museum before the program. In addition, the Promissory Notes will play folk and mountain music both nights before the Featured Teller performance.

For more information, visit the festival website or call 574-262-5957.

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