Almost 40 years ago, a high school journalism teacher and a carload of students heard Grand Ole Opry regular Jerry Clower spin a tale over the radio about coon hunting in Mississippi. And the teacher, Jimmy Neil Smith, had a sudden inspiration: Why not have a storytelling festival right here in northeast Tennessee?On a warm October weekend in 1973 in historic Jonesborough, the first National Storytelling Festival was held. Hay bales and wagons were the stages, and audience and tellers together didn’t number more than 60. It was tiny, but something happened that weekend that forever changed our culture, this traditional art form, and the little Tennessee town.
The Festival, now in its 38th year and acclaimed as one of the Top 100 Events in North America, sparked a renaissance of storytelling across the country. To spearhead that revival, Smith and a few other story lovers founded the National Storytelling Association. If you missed it this year, make plans to attend next year's event the first weekend in October. As all our guests at Fox Manor this weekend told us, "You will not regret it!"
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