SPOTLIGHT: National storytellers join locals for Port Angeles festival

PORT ANGELES — Her name might not be a household world, but Connie Regan-Blake is a rock star in the world of story ­telling.

And she’s performing in Port Angeles this weekend.

Regan-Blake joins national, regional and local storytellers for the 15th annual Forest Storytelling Festival running tonight, Saturday and Sunday at Peninsula College, presented by the Story People of Clallam County.

“I’m amazed that she came this far,” Cherie Trebon, Story People director, said.

Near and far

Regan-Blake hails from a part of the country that is rich in storytellers, Asheville, N.C.

Her stories are said to range from “hilarious traditional Appalachian Mountain tales to poignant true-life dramas.”

She has appeared nationally on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CNN. She has also been featured on seven award-winning storytelling recordings.

Regan-Blake performs at the festival tonight, two shows Saturday and in the 10 a.m. Sunday concert with all the featured storytellers.

She also shares her storytelling tips at several workshops throughout the weekend.

Trebon said the festival has grown in size and reputation to the point where nationally known storytellers ask if they can come.

“We are able to draw them by our reputation,” she said. “People are calling us and asking if they can send us their resumes and audition tapes.”

All the performers at this festival, however, were selected by the Story People.

Other national storytellers participating in the festival are Andy Offutt Irwin, from Covington, Ga., and Dan Keding from Urbana, Ill.

Regional storytellers are Joy Steiner from Boise, Idaho, Dayton Edmonds from Omak and emcee Pat Peterson from Seattle.

Local storytellers sharing the spotlight are James the Obscure (James Dean Hodgson), Elsa Johnson, Rosie Sharpe and Dennis Duncan.

The storytelling weekend consists of workshops with the guest storytellers, which are already booked up, and storytelling concerts which are open to the public.

Concerts at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday will offer a chance to hear all the guest storytellers in one place. They will also give individual shows.

The public events give local storytellers a chance to share the stage with the guest storytellers as opening acts.

Hodgson performs at the 1:30 p.m. concert Saturday in his James the Obscure persona, opening for Keding.

Johnson performs at the 2:45 p.m concert Saturday, opening for Steiner.

Johnson, a retired teacher, is a founding member of the Story People and the board secretary.

Sharpe opens for Regan-Blake in the 3:45 p.m. Saturday concert.

Sharpe is a musician and “up and coming storyteller,” Trebon said. This will be her first appearance.

Retired teacher and longtime Story People member Duncan opens for the free concert at 10 a.m. Sunday which features all the storytellers.

The Storytelling Festival also offers festival-goers the chance to walk away with a green and white “forest” quilt handmade and donated by the Sunbonnet Sue quilt club.

Monies raised from the sale of raffle tickets for the quilt will help fund the local Story People.

There will also be a silent auction with items on display through Sunday morning.

Times and tickets

The 15th annual Forest Storytelling Festival takes place at the Peninsula College Little Theatre, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd. tonight through Sunday, Oct. 18.

Public performances are:

Today

•7:30 p.m.: Featured Storytellers in Concert, with Connie Regan-Blake, Andy Offut Irwin, Dan Keding, Dayton Edmonds and Joy Steiner.

Saturday, Oct. 17

• 1:30 p.m.: Dan Keding, with James the Obscure opening

• 2:45 p.m.: Joy Steiner, with Elsa Johnson opening

• 3:45 p.m.: Connie Regan-Blake, with Rosie Sharpe opening

• 7:30 p.m.: Featured Storytellers in Concert

Sunday, Oct. 18

• 10 a.m.: Concert of Inspirational Stories, with all featured storytellers, Dennis Duncan opening

• Noon: Dayton Edmonds

• 12:30 p.m.: Andy Offutt Irwin

Tickets for individual events are $10 general for the 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday concerts; $20 for a block of three storyteller presentations from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m Saturday; and $15 for a block of two storyteller presentations from noon to 1:15 p.m. Sunday.

The Concert of Inspirational Stories,10 a.m. Sunday, is free.

Tickets for youths age 10 to 16 and Peninsula College students with ID are half price.

Tickets are available at Odyssey Bookshop, 114 W. Front St. in Port Angeles and at the door.

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