Azalea Storytelling Festival returns this weekend for 27th year

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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Inside all of us, there is a story waiting to come out. On March 3 through March 5, the Azalea Storytelling Festival makes a return for its 27th year. The three-day event will take place at the Callaway Auditorium with Carol Cain serving as the emcee.

“All stories — whether they’re funny or touching, silly or serious — have the power to remind us that we’re all human,” said Dolores Hydock, who is returning to the festival stage.

Hydock said she will stray away from historical, literary and medieval stories that she has presented at other festivals.

“At this year’s festival, all my stories will be based on personal experiences from everyday life — stories about family quirks, high technology, stray cats and a solar eclipse,” she said. “I hope my stories are affectionate portraits of real people and real situations, with a big dose of heart, humor and hope.”

Hydock said she feels the attendees are a key part of the storytelling experience.

“The teller can feel the presence and attention of the audience members,” she said. “It’s not like going to a movie or watching something on YouTube, where the show is the same, no matter who’s watching or whether anyone is watching at all. With a live performance, the physical presence and attention of other people helps shape the story.”

Hydock won’t be the only familiar face at the festival. Donald Davis, a retired United Methodist minister known nationally as the Dean of Storytelling, will also come back to LaGrange to tell stories about his Southern Appalachian Mountain roots.

Storytellers Adam Booth and the Rev. Robert Jones Sr. will be making their debut at this year’s festival. Like Davis, Booth will also share moments from his Appalachian upbringing.

“I am from West Virginia, so I will tell a lot of traditional stories from Central Appalachia,” Booth said. “My style of storytelling is cinematic but also contemporary. I invest a lot of time in my stories to create vivid images and experiences for people.”

The annual event, which draws over 2,000 visitors, is the brainchild of the late Pat Gay, former public relations/children’s librarian, and storyteller at LaGrange Memorial Library, the late Dr. Evelyn Jordan, former Chair of LaGrange College Education Department, and Joyce Morgan Young, former assistant superintendent with the Troup County School System. Davis helped the dream of the co-founders come to fruition in 1997.

Young said she is grateful for the festival’s partnership with the college.

“The enduring support of LaGrange College presidents, faculty and staff has been key to Azalea’s success,” she said. “The Azalea Storytelling Festival will be a weekend filled with laughter, tears and stories that serve the audience as catalysts of moments in their past”.

Tickets for individual days or the full three-day weekend can be purchased on WWW.LSPArts.ORG, over the phone at (706) 882-9909, or in-person at the LSPA box office, Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased at the door the day of the festival.