The Art of Storytelling

Featuring storytellers in both word and song, the Amelia Island Festival of Stories & Songs presents entertaining stories from talented artists, including author Carl Hiaasen.

Amelia Island is welcoming a new festival this year. The inaugural Amelia Island Festival of Stories & Songs comes to the island from February 2 to February 4. Whether it is classical music, opera, jazz, or the celebration of books, Amelia Islanders love to get together to listen, learn, and enjoy!

The new festival celebrates the art of storytelling, both oral and musical. A variety of talent will be on display at the two featured venues: Story & Song Center for Arts & Culture and the Springhill Suites by Marriott on Atlantic Avenue.

Storytelling is an important part of our culture. It helps us to preserve history and family lore. Storytelling festivals have proved popular in places as close as Mt. Dora, Florida and as far away as Jonesborough, Tennessee, where its festival draws more than 10,000 people each year.

In its first year, the Amelia Island Festival of Stories & Songs attendees will be entertained, and even educated, through the art of storytelling. Florida’s own Carl Hiaasen will headline Saturday night’s event. The Miami-based author will share his strong convictions about life in Florida, his concerns about the fragile environment, and share his reflections on the outrageous characters in his bestselling novels. A man of many talents, he also writes popular children’s books, which will be available for sale.

Stories can be shared in many forms. Festivalgoers will enjoy a variety of programs that use music to tell stories. Singer/songwriters include Michael Reno Harrell, Paul Strickland, Kim Weitkamp, and local favorite Sean McCarthy. Two workshops are being offered.

“Lunch with Storytellers” is a special event scheduled for Sunday from 12:30 to 2:30 p,m, at the Springhill Suites by Marriott. Participants will enjoy a delicious deli buffet and performances by Paul Strickland, Michael Reno Harrell, and Kim Weitkamp, nationally known storytellers participating in the festival.

In partnership with the Amelia Island Museum of History, participants will learn about Amelia Island’s rich past. The museum curator, Jarrett Hill, will share something from the museum’s archive, a proper lady from the nineteenth century will talk about her visits in the Golden Age of Fernandina, and another storyteller will offer tales of treasures found on Amelia Island’s beaches. “Friday afternoon Tea & Tales” will offer Diane Johnson as Harriett Tubman performing a musical tribute of slave songs. Participants can enjoy hot teas and sweet and savory treats from Story & Song’s Bistro.

There will be stories for all ages. Story & Song is committed to children and provides a “StoryTime with Ms. Dearsha” every Saturday morning. On the festival weekend, the Saturday morning program will feature a special visit with Shana Banana (aka Shana Smith), who will share stories and music with the children attending.

The festival will be the official book launch for Life on American Beach: Stories from the Dunes, a collection of memories from twenty writers. Several will tell their stories at the festival, and signed copies of the newly released book will be available for purchase.

Robin Cormier, executive director of the Story & Song Foundation, shared that the festival is one of the first big events made possible through the newly formed foundation founded by Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman. The first annual storytelling festival has something for everyone, so mark your calendars for this exciting weekend. Come join storytellers who have so much to share and who will, perhaps, inspire your own stories.

For more information, visit storyandsongarts.org/festival or call (904) 601-2118.