Stories in the Gardens to return Sunday

Published 9:00 am Friday, October 7, 2022

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Gather around storytellers and listeners! The 11th annual Stories in the Gardens is set to be held this weekend at the Pecan Grove at Hills and Dales Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“Stories in the Garden features storytellers who tell like personal experience stories or stories that their family members have passed down to them,” said Haley Merciers, assistant tour and programs coordinator for Hills and Dales Estate. “Most of them are pretty funny and make for a very entertaining evening.”

Headlining this year’s event is regional storyteller Michael Reno Harrell and local storyteller Pepper Hagebak. The emcee of the event is Felecia Moore — a member of the Azalea Storytelling Festival who partners with the LaFayette Society for the Performing Arts (LSPA) in this yearly event.

Harrell is an award-winning songwriter and storyteller. His songs have been described as “Appalachian grit and wit” by listeners. Because of Harrell’s talent as a detailed wordsmith, fans described his work as “little movies.”

Hagebak’s stories tell of her childhood spent letting her imagination run wild and falling in love with books and the written word.

Gates will open at 1 p.m., with music from the Dulcimer Troupers beginning at 1:15 p.m. The storytellers will hit the stage at 2 p.m. and continue until 4 p.m.

Merciers said storytelling is a way of continuing with historical legacy.

“Storytelling is historically a very important part of the community. Before people could read and write they would pass things down orally, which is basically what storytelling is,” Merciers said. “From medicinal recipes to how to do certain things, the history of the community, all of that was originally passed down through word of mouth and storytelling — it’s just that kind of tradition and keeps it alive.”

Stories in the Garden is one of several free storytelling events offered by the Azalea Storytelling Festival Committee and LSPA.

For Stories in the Garden, guests are asked to enter through the visitor center gates at 1916 Hills & Dales Drive and park in the field adjacent to the Pecan Grove.

Attendants will be on hand to assist with parking and light snacks will be provided.

Guests are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets for their comfort. In case of rain, the event will be postponed until Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2 p. m. For more information, call (706) 882-3242 or email