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‘I’m Telling’

Annual storytelling festival begins tonight at state park

UTICA, Ill. — Sure, Starved Rock State Park is a great place to enjoy the great things nature has to offer — fresh air, stunning canyon hikes, fabulous views of the Illinois River Valley, and just a chance to get away from it all for a while.

But that’s not all that’s on the calendar at Starved Rock Lodge, conveniently located within Starved Rock State Park.

The weekend of June 7-9 will bring some of Illinois’ best storytellers back to nature for the Lodge’s annual Storytelling Festival. This event kicks off the Lodge’s storytelling season (which continues every Saturday night at 7 p.m. from June 8 through Oct. 26).

The Lodge’s “I’m Telling,” Storytelling Festival in- cludes nightly storytelling sessions at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and a mid-day storytelling program at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

An additional event designed just for children is the “I’m Telling” Storytelling Workshop to take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 8.

This is a two-hour workshop for school-age children where they will have the opportunity to work with a professional storyteller to bring out the storyteller in them.

Local historian and storyteller Tricia Kelly will lead the workshop and looks forward to once again have the chance to inspire young tellers and be inspired herself by the energy they bring to the workshop. The workshop cost is $20 per child and includes the workshop and “I’m Telling” T-shirt, as well as reserved, front-row seating for stories around the campfire each day of the festival.

The workshop is designed for school-age children, but parents should plan to attend the workshop with their child at no charge.

Storytellers, both professional and amateur, from all over Illinois expressed interest in participating in the festival this year. Pam Rowe, assistant activities coordinator for Starved Rock Lodge, believes that this year’s tellers will bring wonderful entertainment for all ages.

Included in the line-up this year are local storyteller Tricia Kelly, Steve Seaborn and Mick Henneberry.
All three are regular storytellers at the Lodge’s Saturday Night Campfire Stories throughout the summer months.

Kelly tells a wide variety of stories from tall tales to spooky tales and each story will make you think and give you a chuckle as well.

The variety of historical characters from the Illinois Valley are the source Steve Seaborn’s stories. Seaborn takes on the persona of Edward Hegelar of La Salle, Ill., as well as a laborer on the Illinois & Michigan Canal of the 1800s.

Seaborn also brings the life of a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps to his audiences.

New to the festival this year are Mark Kater, Kathe Brinkman, Oba William King and Linda Brodine.  These four tellers are from different areas of Illinois and are expected to add wonderful variety to the storytelling mix at the festival.

Mark Kater is the resident storyteller at the North Park Village Nature Center in Chicago. He shares original stories, myths and folk tales from around the world.

Oba William King brings his wide variety of stories linking past to present and has been dubbed “the poetic storyteller” weaving traditional tales with rhythm and drums.

Kathe Brinkmann from Champaign, Ill., is a founding member of the Champaign-Urbana Storytelling Guild.

She tells annually at storytelling festivals around the country and tells family-friendly stories with a ghost story mixed in here and there.

Illinois author and former Illinois Valley resident, Linda Brodine will join the festival with a book talk and signing of her book “Gramma, Please Tell Us a Story.”

Storytelling Around the Campfire is designed for all ages and admission is a voluntary donation.

For the specific schedule of tellers, you can visit the Lodge’s website at or call the Activities Department for more information at (815) 220-7386.

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