Many faculty and staff members gathered for the first time in several years at the Timbermine Steakhouse in Ogden to commemorate the 26th annual Weber State Storytelling Festival on March 1.
David Byrd, head of storytelling in the department of education, revealed that the dinner was assembled just three weeks prior and was a last-minute addition.
“An exciting night to be with you,” WSU President Brad Mortensen said. “How wonderful it is that this storytelling festival is what brings us together this night.”
At the dinner, the Karen J. Ashton Storytelling Award was given to a deserving community member who perpetuated the art and purpose of storytelling.
The individual who embodied those qualities and received the award this year was Monica Sue Flint. She received this award for her efforts as the primary person to promote storytelling in Davis Schools for the past sixteen years.
Sam Payne, part of the committee for the Storytelling Festival, was on hand to moderate the various storytellers, who were telling stories throughout the night.
Megan Butler, the first storyteller of the night, was only 6-and-a-half years old. She had the distinction of being the very first homeschooled storyteller. Her storytelling technique captivated all who were in attendance. So much so, that she was treated to a standing ovation by all.
Lyn Ford, a veteran to the Storytelling Festival, having told stories at previous festivals for decades prior to this year, also had the opportunity of telling a story.
“Storytelling is part of who I am and the reason for what I do,” said Ford. “When I stepped into storytelling, I found my happy places.”
“Happy Places” ended up being the theme of all the stories told by the storyteller’s following Ford’s impactful rendition of the Br’er Rabbit story and all its iterations.
Paul Strickland brought a unique style and cadence to his story. Strickland, a newcomer to the festival, used his stand up comedy roots to tell a pun-filled story about “The Whatabouts” that had the audience in laughter.
“Stories are what’s important,” Strickland said, reiterating his happy place. “Stories relight when they go out in each other.”
The final storyteller of the night, Jasmin Cardenas, told stories stemming from her own life experiences. She told a story of her dreams of being an actress and even how she met her own life partner, her own personal happy place.
Stories can be an individual’s respective happy place — not just the stories told by the storytellers, but the stories shared by all.