Storytellers return for annual festival
The 22nd anniversary celebration of the Azalea Storytelling Festival will take
place this weekend at Callaway Auditorium on LaGrange College’s campus.
This family-friendly opportunity offers a schedule of events featuring nationally
recognized storytellers including Michael Reno Harrell, Dolores Hydock, Kevin Kling,
Bil Lepp, and Carol Cain as emcee.
The festival draws approximately 2,500 people each year, with patrons attending
from 24 states and several foreign countries. Founded in 1997, the ASF has
become a model of community organization, cooperation and collaboration, and continues
to see some of Georgia’s and the nation’s premier storytellers on its stage.
A product of the Southern Appalachian mountains,
is a veteran storyteller, entertainer and musician. His recordings, described
as “Appalachian grit and wit,” top the Americana Music Association charts year
Harrell has been a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival and a
teller-in-residence at the International Storytelling Center, both in Jonesborough,
Tennessee, as well as performing artist at major music events like MerleFest and
the Walnut Valley Festival.
Along with his performances, Harrell often conducts workshops in the art and craft
of songwriting and storytelling. “The Stories behind the Songs” is his most recent
is an actress and story performer, whose work has been featured at a variety of
concerts, festivals and special events throughout the U.S. She has been a featured
storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival and has been teller-in-residence
at International Storytelling Center. Her 10 CDs of original stories have all received
Resource Awards from Storytelling World Magazine.
She is originally from Reading, Pennsylvania, where she won her first blue ribbon
in storytelling in a local contest at the age of 5. She now lives in Birmingham,
As an actress, she has been featured in several one-woman plays including “In
Her Own Fashion,” “Shirley Valentine,” “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life
in the Universe” and “Nothing Sacred: An Evening of Stories by Ferrol Sams.”
is a well-known playwright and storyteller, and his commentaries can be heard
National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered
” His plays and adaptations have been performed around the world. He lives in
He grew up in Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove, Minneapolis suburbs, and graduated
from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in theater. His storytelling started
when a friend from the now-defunct Brass Tacks Theatre asked him to perform his
Since then, he has been awarded numerous arts grants and fellowships from groups
such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota
State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation and The Jerome Foundation. In 2014 Mayor
R.T. Rybak named Kling “Minneapolis Story Laureate.”
is a nationally renowned storyteller and five-time champion of the West Virginia
Liars’ Contest. He is the author of six books and 16 audio collections. His first
children’s book, “The King of Little Things,” won the PEN Steven Kroll Award for
Picture Book Writing, received a Kirkus Starred review and favorable reviews from
The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, The School Library Journal and other
publications. It also won the Zena Sutherland Award, the Parent’s Choice Gold Award,
was a finalist for the Irma
Black Award, and was chosen to be West Virginia's book at the National Book Festival.
In 2011, he was awarded the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence
Award. Lepp has been featured 15 times at the National Storytelling Festival, and
has performed at major storytelling festivals, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival,
and at corporate events and functions across the country. He performed at Comedy
Central’s Stage on Hudson in
Los Angeles, California. Lepp lives in Charleston, West Virginia, with his wife
and two children.
is a graduate of LaGrange College, with double majors in English and Speech and
Drama. She is a veteran educator with 30 years’ experience teaching language arts
and theatre arts in the Troup County School System. She was named the Troup
County Teacher of the Year in 2000 and was a 2001 finalist for Georgia Teacher
of the Year. In 2013, she earned the title of Troup County High School Teacher
of the Year. Cain was also named to the LaGrange College Wall of Fame in
the spring of 2000.
She has both acted and directed productions for the Lafayette Theatre Company
and currently serves on the advisory committee for both LTC and the Lafayette Theatre
Academy. Additionally, Cain is the artistic director and emcee for the Azalea
Storytelling Festival and has been a featured storyteller at festivals, museums,
libraries and civic groups across the Southeast.
Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday; 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday;
and 9:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. Sunday for sacred storytelling. Musical performances
will be presented before sessions begin. Friday and Saturday nights will feature
Music and Musical Theatre students at 6:50 p.m. Saturday’s performers will include
Strings Attached with Ken Passmore accompanying at 8:45 a.m. and pianist David
Fountain at 1:30 p.m. The Dulcimer Troupers of LaGrange will provide music at 8:30
a.m. before Sunday’s sacred stories.
Ticket prices are, full festival, adults $45, students (18 and under) $22; Friday
and Saturday night adults $20, students $12; Saturday all day, adult $35, student
$17; Saturday morning and afternoon, adult $15, student $7; and Sunday morning,
free for adults and students.
Supporting organizations include Lafayette Society for Performing Arts, LaGrange-Troup
County Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Authority, West Georgia Technical
College, Friends of LaGrange Memorial Library, Troup County School System, LaGrange
Tourism Bureau, the WestPoint Fund and LaGrange College.
For additional information, to view a full schedule of events and to purchase
. Tickets may also be purchased in the LSPA business office at 214 Bull
St. from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday or on site at the event.