Library to host Azalea Storytelling preview

Published 2:00 am Saturday, February 9, 2019

The azaleas aren’t quite ready to bloom yet, but on Sunday, LaGrange’s first signs of the approaching spring will be visible at the LaGrange Memorial Library with A Taste of Storytelling.

A Taste of Storytelling is one of several events leading up to the Azalea Storytelling Festival, and the free event usually draws a crowd to soak in the tales from both the featured teller and local storytellers. This year, Donna Will is scheduled to be the featured teller.

“I am excited to have Donna here,” said Joyce Young, event organizer and one of the founding members of the Azalea Storytelling Festival. “I met her this past summer in North Carolina when I was in a Donald Davis workshop, and I just thought the people in LaGrange ought to hear her stories.”

Will said that she enjoys telling a variety of stories to listeners of all ages.

“I have been traditionally a folklorist and fairy tale person, but I have moved into the personal stories,” Will said. “That seems to be the wave going right now. Everybody loves to hear what you did when you were a child.”

Will served as a public school media specialist for 30 years, and she is a founding member and past president of the Virginia Storytelling Alliance. She has previously told stories at VASA events, her local public library and groups around the state of Virginia.

“I have been telling stories for a number of years, and I enjoy sharing them with people,” Will said. “I enjoy watching the listeners, and I think everybody, no matter what age they are, loves stories.”

Local tellers Sidney Gay, Whit Perry and Allen Pruitt will also regale audiences with their tales and help get the community excited about the 23rd annual Azalea Festival.

“We started it to whet the appetite of LaGrange-area people about the storytelling that is coming,” Young said. “We always have [events] two to three weeks ahead of time just to get the storytelling back in people’s minds, and of course, while we are at the storytelling [event], we tell them about the festival coming up and the programs that will be offered during the week before. It is an excellent chance to feature local tellers.”

A variety of snacks will be provided by committee members at the beginning of the event, which organizers hope will pull people in from throughout the community.

“We have had a packed house at the LaGrange Memorial Library [in previous years],” Young said. “We usually have over a hundred people. It is a free event with refreshments. … The reception has grown, and each year, more people come. I’d say it has been very well received.”

A Taste of Storytelling will take place at the LaGrange Memorial Library on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. This is a free event, which is sponsored by the Friends of the LaGrange Memorial Library.