The Moyes College of Education is celebrating the telling of stories at Weber State University for 25 years within 25 days in a new online format for the college’s annual Storytelling Festival.

Ed Stivender, a professional storyteller, kicks of Weber State's Storytelling Festival with a song about Ogden. Weber State's storytelling festival started Feb. 22 and will go until March 18. (The Signpost/ Sarah Earnshaw)
Ed Stivender, a professional storyteller, kicks off Weber State’s Storytelling Festival with a song about Ogden. (Sarah Earnshaw // The Signpost) Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

The festival, which began Feb. 22, is normally held in person over a course of three days. During the planning stage, the festival’s committee was faced with having to hold the festival online this year and a need to get creative for the festival’s 25-year anniversary.

As a solution to the problem the pandemic poses, the committee came up with an idea to host the event in an advent-style format where a few stories would be released each day over the course of 25 days.

The stories are being posted daily on the festival’s website until March 18.

Though the festival was not held in its traditional format, the committee said this online format will reach a broader audience.

Normally, elementary schools would take a field trip to the festival and would only have the opportunity to see one day. This year, schools have the ability to watch it in their classrooms.

Motoko, a professional storyteller, performs a story called Momotaro the Peach Boy, The Story Bag. As part of the 25th annual Storytelling Festival, the event invited a professional storyteller that had been to the event before. (The Signpost/ Sarah Earnshaw)
Motoko, a professional storyteller, performs a story called Momotaro the Peach Boy, The Story Bag. (Sarah Earnshaw // The Signpost) Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

“I’ve talked to a couple of teachers that usually would not have taken their students to the festival that are accessing this because they don’t have to take their students,” David Byrd, the chair of the festival, said.

Byrd said that districts are limited to the amount of field trips they can do in a year. With this new format, schools can participate without using it as a field trip.

“I have a daughter who is a teacher in another state and I sent her the link to be able to use and told her to share it with her coworkers,” Tammy Bush, the festival’s administrative assistant, said.

Gerardo, a local elementary student, performs a fable called La Llorona at Weber State's Storytelling Festival. Weber State's storytelling festival started Feb. 22 and will go until March 18. (The Signpost/ Sarah Earnshaw)
Gerardo, a local elementary student, performs a fable called La Llorona at Weber State’s Storytelling Festival. (Sarah Earnshaw // The Signpost) Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

Although he has not seen the amount of viewers for the entire event yet, Byrd said that he saw a huge uptick in the amount of viewers in one day. Because of this, Byrd plans to incorporate parts of this year’s event into future years.

The festival will be held in person over a course of three days next year, but the committee plans to find a way to record the storytellers and broadcast or archive them for those who cannot attend the event in person.

Kalei, a local elementary student, performs a folktale for Weber State's Storytelling Festival. Weber State's storytelling festival started Feb. 22 and will go until March 18. (The Signpost/ Sarah Earnshaw)
Kalei, a local elementary student, performs a folktale for Weber State’s Storytelling Festival. Weber State’s storytelling festival started Feb. 22 and will go until March 18. (Sarah Earnshaw // The Signpost) Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

“It’s fun to me as we’ve brought the festival online this year, to come into your home or your classroom, and to have you come into mine,” Sam Payne, Weber State’s storyteller, said right before he presented his first story of the event, Ghost Dog.

The festival had to cancel their annual fundraising banquet due to the pandemic. The banquet is used to partially fund the current year’s festival and the next year’s festival. Byrd said that since the event is online, the festival saved on some costs and the lack of a banquet should not cause problems for next year’s event.

Alan Griffin, a local storyteller, tells a story called 3 Pigs on the second day of Weber State's Storytelling Festival. Weber State's storytelling festival started Feb. 22 and will go until March 18. (The Signpost/ Sarah Earnshaw)
Alan Griffin, a local storyteller, tells a story called “Three Pigs” on the second day of Weber State’s Storytelling Festival. (Sarah Earnshaw // The Signpost) Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

“It didn’t cost as much this year since we didn’t have to pay for facilities, we didn’t have to pay for housing for the visiting tellers, so a lot of our costs were down,” Byrd said.

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