Storytelling festival bringing Maine tales to life, July 19-21

9 mins read
Joseph Bruchac
Joseph Bruchac

FARMINGTON – The tales of Mainers, past and present, will provide the theme for the 3rd annual Western Maine Storyteller Festival next week, with participants providing a mixture of dramatic, humorous and informational stories.

Events will run from Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21 at several Farmington locations, including the University of Maine at Farmington campus, the North Church and the Thai Smile restaurant on Front Street. Many events are free and open to the public, tickets for the other sessions may be purchased at the door or through the festival’s website. Group workshop tickets must be purchased through the website.

Featured storytellers include Susan Poulin, creator of Ida LeClair, “the funniest woman in Maine”, and Abenaki storyteller and writer Joseph Bruchac.

Bruchac’s Friday afternoon workshop for teachers, youth workers, and parents will be the first of several programs featuring regional Native American stories and culture, including Bruchac’s Friday evening performance, a Saturday morning program for children by Passamaquoddy/Maliseet and Abenaki language-keepers Roger Paul and Jesse Bruchac, and a historical performance by Jo Radner, “Braving the Middle Ground: Stories of Pre-Revolutionary Northern New England.”

In addition, the Festival will feature a poetry reading by Wes McNair; regional quilt artists showing their quilts and telling the tales behind them; “Stories in Song” with singer-songwriters Matt and Shannon Heaton, Matt Shipman and Erica Brown, and “Western Maine Talkers” from the logging industry telling stories of their life and work experiences. The loggers will be bringing trucks and logging equipment for visitors to examine.

Schedule of Events:

Friday July 19

Workshop: The Circle of Stores. 2 -4 pm. Joseph and Jesse Bruchac
Located at: UMF Education Center Lobby, 186 High Street
Tickets: $15

One of the oldest American Indian symbols is that of the circle. When we gather in a circle we see each other’s faces and are all the same distance from the center. This interactive workshop experience will help participants see that circle through stories, activities, and games that come from the Native cultures of the northeast. It will also present ways that we each can use our own cultural experiences and heritage of stories, whether native or non-native, to enrich our children’s understanding and appreciation of storytelling and the larger world around them.

Aimed at youth leaders, teachers, parents, and all who are interested in presenting Indian culture, the workshop will involve participants in music, easy to play games, and dance — all drawing on the circle as a concept and unifying force.

Family Show: Learning From Our Monsters. 7 – 8:30 pm. Joseph and Jesse Bruchac
Located at: Emery Community Arts Center, Academy Street
Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children (15 and under)

An evening of American Indian scary stories from Wabanaki and Haudenosaunee traditions. (Be prepared to meet Ugly Face, Vampire Skeletons, the Kikwakw, Toad Woman, Stone Giants and Flying Heads!) These will all be tales that, in Native traditions, are not just meant to frighten but also to teach important lessons and inspire good decision-making in both children and adults.

Saturday, July 20

Mawnukot: Celebrating Wabanaki Peoples. 9 – 10:30 am. Jesse Bruchac & Roger Paul
Located at: First Congregational Church, 235 Main Street
Tickets: Free!

Jesse and Roger will engage everyone in Native American traditions of Maine – telling stories, teaching songs and dances, and introducing some Wabanaki language as well. For families and children.

The Logging Industry. 11 – noon. Western Maine Talkers
Located at: First Congregational Church, 235 Main Street
Tickets: Free!

Lifelong woodsmen, many of whom have been inducted into the Loggers Hall of Fame at the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, will tell stories about their lives and work experiences in the logging industry. Loggers, including Lance White of Dixfield, will bring trucks and logging equipment for visitors to examine. Co-sponsored by the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum.

Stories Wrapped in Quilts. 1:30 – 2 pm. Various artists.
Located at: Farmington Public Library, 117 Academy Street
Tickets: Free!

Regional quilt artists will show some of their finest quilts and tell the tales that lie behind their fabrics and designs.

The Poet as Storyteller. 2 – 3 pm. Wes McNair
Located at: Farmington Public Library, 117 Academy Street
Tickets: Free!

In this presentation, Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair will read and discuss poems that show his development as a storyteller, from his early narratives about characters from northern New England, to his autobiographical accounts that interweave place and family experience, to his poems about the popular culture, which use storytelling to investigate the myths and meanings of the American Dream. The program will end with a book-signing.

Braving the Middle Ground: Stories of Pre-Revolutionary Northern New England. 3:30 – 5 pm. Jo Radner
Located at: The North Church, 118 High Street
Tickets: Free!

Storyteller/historian Jo Radner juxtaposes Native American oral traditions and stories told by her own New England ancestors to reveal a complex colonial “middle ground” in which English settlers and Native peoples saw one another as defenders and trespassers, pursuers and refugees, relatives and aliens, kind neighbors and ruthless destroyers. Co-sponsored by the Farmington Historical Society.

I Married an Alien!. 7 – 8:30 pm. Susan Poulin
Located at: Emery Community Arts Center, Academy Street
Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children (15 and under)

Susan Poulin stars as Ida LeClair in her newest “Ida” performance. Have you ever looked at your husband and thought, Wait a minute! Who is this guy? I mean, what planet is he from? The kicker is, you know there are times he’s wonderin’ the same exact thing about you. Join Ida, “the funniest woman in Maine,” for her hilarious down-home insights into love, marriage, and what to do when the double-wide’s feelin’ just a little small for the both of you.

The Tale End. 9 – 10:30 pm.
Located at: Thai Smile & Sushi Restaurant, 103 Narrow Gauge Square
Tickets: Free! (cash bar)

Teller reception and storytelling swap. All festival attendees are invited to come and celebrate!

Sunday, July 21

Stories in Song. 2 – 4 pm. Singer-songwriters Matt Shipman and Erica Brown, and Matt and Shannon Heaton
Located at: Emery Community Arts Center, Academy Street
Tickets: $15 adults, $5 children (15 and under)

In this performance, singer-songwriters Matt Shipman and Erica Brown, Matt and Shannon Heaton demonstrate how stories, both current and traditional, are woven into lyrics and finally have music added to complete the texture of what we call songs. Two well known husband & wife teams join forces to share their journeys and experience in developing songs from their original compositions and traditional ballads. Co-sponsored by Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center.

Map of Events:



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  1. Thank you so much for your generous coverage of the storytelling festival. We appreciate your help. Phyllis Blackstone, Festival Chair

  2. We are very excited to bring “Stories in Song” to Farmington. We love presenting this level of artist in an intemate setting. The Emery Center is the perfect place to do this event. Very family friendly as are all our shows.

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