PORT ANGELES — This vacation to Fiji was going so well. Then came the barracuda, hungry for a snack, swimming straight at me.
That fish tore off my arm. What a mess. Fortunately I don’t leave home without my roll of duct tape; I refastened that limb to my shoulder and boom, holiday good times restored.
When I got home, I found things had changed in my city, and for the better, many people felt.
There was this hen, an urban chicken so charming that she turned her neighborhood popularity to a citywide political win: She had been elected to the City Council.
There’s more to these stories, juiced up as they were by Ken Dubuc of Port Angeles and Anne Rutherford of Portland, Ore.
Fare like this will be in abundant supply Saturday night as the Story People of Clallam County present the annual Liars Contest, a public event featuring 10 tall-tale tellers.
The 7 p.m. contest, held in the Raymond Carver Room at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St., sold out last year and the year before, so $10 tickets are available in advance at www.Clallam StoryPeople.org.
Those who are members of the Story People, the nonprofit organization offering monthly swaps and the Forest Storytelling Festival in October, pay $8.
“The Liars Contest is one of our most popular storytelling events, and for good reason,” said Erran Sharpe, Story People board president.
“It’s amazing how creative and fun these stories are. The best of them poke fun at human nature, at fads and at our gullibility,” he added.
Ingrid Nixon, a professional storyteller known for hosting story slams and liars’ contests in Port Angeles and Sequim, has moved to southeast Alaska. But she’s coming back to emcee Saturday’s competition.
Eyeing the lineup of liars, she predicted a tough contest.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had so many past placers,” Nixon said, noting that past champions Dubuc and Colleen Squier will compete alongside Akasha Atherton, Cherie Trebon, Bob Nuffer, Tobey Anderson, Dana Casey, Michael Schmidt, Pat Ferris, Carl Grant and Leah Erb.
With rivals such as these, “we anticipate cut-throat cleverness,” Nixon said.
Cash prizes go to the winners: $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third.
A panel of judges evaluates the stories’ inventiveness and unpredictability, and considers whether the tale builds to an intangible idea or universal truth.
Winning tellers don’t use notes; they do use body language to great effect. All of this happens inside the seven-minute limit.
Those who come to the contest, Nixon and Sharpe advise, best brace themselves. A good lie starts out plausible. Then one thing leads to another and it all spins out of control.
“What I really enjoy,” said Nixon, “is we have a lot of laughter. The audience is totally accepting of the zaniness of the tellers. At the end of the night, my face aches from smiling” — and that’s the truth.