Historic Jonesborough is the Storytelling Capital of World.
Not only does this Tennessee town stage the highly acclaimed National Storytelling Festival every October, Jonesborough also serves as the home of the International Storytelling Center. It is here that story listeners and tellers from across America gather to share tales both big and small through the Teller-in-Residence program and the Storytellers Guild.
National Storytelling Festival
“What New Orleans is to jazz… Jonesborough is to storytelling.” – Los Angeles Times
Walk through Jonesborough’s charming streets beginning the first Friday in October and you’ll be surrounded by stories sure to steal your attention. For nearly 50 years, storytellers have traveled to Jonesborough to share their stories at the National Storytelling festival.
The festival began in 1973 when a small group of people gathered around an old farm wagon in Courthouse Square to hear a few Appalachian tales. During the decades since, that tiny audience has grown to 10,000 listeners, and the hay wagon has been replaced by large, circus-like tents spread throughout the town where world-renowned tellers spin their tales in this storybook setting.
International Storytelling Center
It’s no secret that storytelling is a large part of Jonesborough and the unique history that created it. In fact, storytelling became so popular in Jonesborough that the annual Storytelling Festival was founded in 1973. Nearly 30 years later, the International Storytelling Center campus was opened and it became the first facility devoted exclusively to the ancient storytelling tradition. The center stands as a tribute to storytelling in the Tennessee town that gave birth to the revival of this longstanding tradition.
Through the International Storytelling Center’s acclaimed Teller-in-Residence program, visitors to Historic Jonesborough can enjoy live storytelling even if they aren’t visiting during the festival. This renowned series offers 26 of American’s best-loved storytellers each spending a week telling stories during daily matinees and special concerts every Tuesday through Saturday from May through October.
Jonesborough Storytellers Guild
Founded in 1994, the Storytellers Guild supports the region’s storytellers and is the only storytelling guild in the United States with a weekly performance venue. Since its creation, the Storytellers Guild has grown from seven founding members to over forty. Each Tuesday evening at 7, members of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild tell stories at the Mary B. Martin Theatre to anyone who wishes to attend.
Jonesborough Storytown Radio Show
Storytown Radio provides Jonesborough with a monthly live radio performance and provides the Tri-Cities region with a monthly broadcast of these shows on the local NPR station 89.5 FM. These productions celebrate the culture and stories of the people of Jonesborough and the Southern Appalachian Region. Now in its eighth season, “Storytown Radio Show” is a monthly, scripted production, based on local stories and regional music and performed by an inter-generational, multi-cultural cast of local actors, storytellers and musicians, to create an audio patchwork quilt of what it means to be home in the mountains.
Storytelling Resource Place
The purpose of the Storytelling Resource Place is to collect, preserve and make available storytelling resources in a public space where people may use the resources and view the artifacts. The specific purpose and objectives include, but are not limited to, the following:
To solicit and attract donations of storytelling-related resources including books, manuscripts, notes, CD’s, DVD’s, videos, props, musical instruments, costumes, etc from storytellers.
To create museum-quality multimedia exhibits on storytelling throughout history and around the world
To provide a central location where the storytelling collections and exhibits are available to the general public, students, academicians, researchers, and storytellers.