Stories abound at the Storytelling Festival each year, and I’m not talking about the tellers. While I was in the Courthouse Tent listening to Corinne Stavish, I took a moment to look around at the crowd. The tent was filled with sixteen hundred people. It occurred to me that those sixteen hundred people were all listening to the same story, but they were all listening for sixteen hundred different reasons.
It hit me! How inspiring would it be to chat with each individual festival goer and unearth all sixteen hundred unique reasons? That day I didn’t quite hit my goal of hearing everyone’s story. But on my walk through town, I was lucky enough to encounter one high spirited and highly decorated lady, Bobby Vickers. In the sea of umbrellas and baseball caps, I spotted her black corduroy cap covered in storytelling festival swatches. It appeared as if the patches dated back nearly two decades. I knew without a doubt, I had to snag a photo and hear this story. The owner and creator of this ornate cap was a storytelling lover through and through. After I introduced myself to her and we began chatting, she said that her hat did indeed date back to the 1980’s. As the wind blew a few strands of her dark hair across her face, she brushed them out of the way and explained the gift that the Storytelling Festival gives her each year, “The town’s so quaint and it’s just a really good way to decompress. You know, after all the hectic stuff you’ve been through all year. This is like our decompression weekend.” And of course, I had to ask the question if she wears her hat each year. Bobby said, “Well you know, a couple of years I’ve lost it and couldn’t find it. But other than that, I always bring it every year.” After talking with Bobby, I thought back to all of those people listening to Corinne Stavish in the courthouse tent. I thought about all the sixteen hundred reasons for why they were listening. And then I thought about all the stories and memories that hat will forever hold for Bobby Vickers. The magic of a treasure like that hat holds more than just patches from past festivals, it also holds stories and memories.