The Art of Storytelling

Shoals Front Porch Storytelling Festival inspires again this weekend

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Impossible tall tales, heartwarming reminiscences and side-splitting humor — there will be a little bit for everyone at the eighth annual Shoals Front Porch Storytelling Festival later this week.

Some of the nation’s top storytellers will come together in Florence for the two-day event, which begins Friday. This year’s festival lineup includes Donald Davis, Dolores Hydock, Tim Lowery, Bil Lepp, Kate Campbell and Josh Goforth.

“We’ve got quite a range of storytellers this year,” festival director Christi Britten said. “Fiction, non-fiction, music — there’s something for everyone.”

Museum and trolley tours will kick off a host of pre-festival activities on Thursday. Museum trolley tours include stops at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Rosenbaum House, the Florence Indian Mound Museum and Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller. Meanwhile, the music trolley tour stops at some of the top music destinations in the Shoals. Places include the birthplace of W.C. Handy and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, and it ends with a free concert with Kate Campbell at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Both tours leave from the Florence Lauderdale Tourism Office at McFarland Park at 1 p.m. Tickets are $30.

City of Florence historian Billy Ray Warren will lead a historic walking through the downtown streets at 2 p.m. Campbell and Goforth will also be performing free concerts that afternoon. Holocaust survivor and author Inge Auerbacher will round out the pre-festival activities with a 7 p.m. performance at Shoals Theatre. Tickets are $10.

“She tells of seeing and being a light of hope in the world,” Britten said. “She also tells her story of her perseverance and moving to America. She is truly a neat person who radiates optimism.”

This year’s event marks the first as being an independent festival under the non-profit Shoals Storytelling Festival. The event was initially born as part of a speaker series on the campus of UNA.

“They had already built a gigantic audience,” Britten said. “So we decided to continue that vision of preserving the art of storytelling, and it really took off. We’re hoping to be able to continue that trend and start doing more throughout the year.”

Two-day passes to the event are $45. A one-day pass is $25. Both passes include the evening events. Evening events are $15 separately.