CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Nationally recognized storyteller Lyn Ford brought her art to Bradley County schools Thursday and will share it with a wider audience today.
She is the featured artist this year for the 16th annual Ocoee Story Fest this evening at Cleveland State Community College.
After listening to a couple of Ford's stories based on her family's multicultural heritage, a fourth-grade girl at Blue Springs Elementary School asked, "Do you always make stories come alive?"
"Bless your heart. I hope so," Ford said. "I certainly hope so, because I want them to be a gift for you. I want you to keep it in your head and in your heart."
Ford is an Ohio teaching artist who facilitates workshops on literacy, early childhood education, storytelling and diversity. She has appeared in 29 states and at an international storytelling festival in Ireland.
Ford calls her stories "Home Fried Tales" to honor her father. Not because he was a good cook, she said, but because he seasoned and simmered his stories. So did her grandfather, Ford said.
"I am a fourth-generation storyteller, as far as we know," she said. "But I am the first to get paid for telling stories."
Like many stories, Ford said, hers are based on family heritage. In her case that is African, Caribbean and Appalachian. She said a friend of hers dubs them as "Afrolachian."
The Ocoee Story Fest is funded through the Allied Arts Council of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, storyteller Judy Baker said. The money comes from the annual Chair-ees Jubilee, an Allied Arts fundraising auction.
"When we started Ocoee Story Fest, we were thinking how nice it would be if we could bring in a national storyteller," said Sylvia Idom with the Cleveland Storytelling Guild, which is putting on the event.
With the Allied Arts Council's help, the guild has had such a storyteller each year, she said.
IF YOU GO
What: Ocoee Story Fest
Where: Cleveland State Community College
When: Today at 7 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person or $15 family maximum
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