Shore’s first storytelling festival set for April 29-30
Event will take place at Chesapeake College
WYE MILLS — The first-ever storytelling festival on the Eastern Shore is coming to Queen Anne’s County at the end of April.
The Queen Anne’s County Storytelling Festival will take place on April 29 and 30 at three venues on the campus of Chesapeake College. It will be the product of a partnership between the college and the Queen Anne’s County Arts Council.
Storytelling, according to organizers, is undergoing a revival in the 21st Century and Queen Anne’s County is the newest community to sign on to that revival.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer such a wide variety of performers, sure to appeal to everyone from kids to adults,” Belinda Cook, Executive Director of the Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, said in a statement.
A number of nationally prominent storytellers, including Andy Irwin, Dolores Hydock, Michael Reno Harrell, Ed Stivender and Kim Weitkamp will perform. An emphasis on local stories will also be a highlight of the two-day event.
“We have dedicated one theater to highlight the heritage of the Eastern Shore. We will feature local storytellers and demonstrations that focus on the life and history of watermen that make their living from the Chesapeake Bay,” Cook said. “I am confident you will be transported to a place where memories and magic are captured and woven into tales that will make you laugh and cry.”
That segment will be known as “Legacy of the Chesapeake” and one of the presenters is Jay Fleming, author of a book entitled Working on the Water, due out this fall. It is a photography book that will chronicle watermen, crab and oyster houses, and boat building on the Bay, in short, anything having to do with the seafood industry.
“I’ll be sharing my experiences out on the water,” he said. “I’ve covered every fishery in the Bay in Virginia and Maryland and met many interesting people.”
Fleming is an Annapolis-based full-time photographer who has done workshops in the past with the Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, and it was decided that his work would be a natural for the festival.
Irwin is an actor and musician as well as a storyteller who creates characters from a small Georgia town as part of his performances. He believes storytelling brings him closer to an audience than music or comedy.
“Storytelling has a broad appeal because it’s an art form that connects with people in an intimate way,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you live or how old you are, the characters in stories really speak to you. I love looking out into the audience and seeing the reactions as these stories unfold.”
Portions of the festival will take place in the 900-seat Todd Performing Arts Center and others will take place in the 120-seat Cadby Studio Theatre. There will also be family-friendly outdoor concerts and activities, according to the organizers. There will also be food vendors and parking will be free.
“Chesapeake College is an integral part of the arts and cultural community here on the Shore, and we’re excited to be a part of this inaugural festival,” said college president Barbara Viniar.
Event sponsors include the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners, Queen Anne’s County Library, Fisherman’s Inn and Crab Deck, Queenstown Bank, Kelly Distributors and Priceless Industries.
Information on tickets and the complete schedule of the event are available by logging onto www. chesapeakestorytelling.com.
Chesapeake photographer Jay Fleming, as seen in a net full of Atlantic Menhaden, while on a location shoot off Hoopers Island in the Chesapeake Bay.