Nationwide celebration of stories returns to Juneau

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2004


Friday evening, Nov. 19

• Emcee Pete Griffin, with music provided by Michael Sakarias on hammer dulcimer.

• Ishmael Hope (storyteller, actor and director of outreach for Perseverance Theatre) will tell "Aak'wtaatseen, Salmon Boy."

• Becky Bear (storyteller, Alaska PersonalTours) will tell "The Gingi," a Yoruba legend about the wild side of life, in 20 minutes.

• Anne C. Fuller will tell "Rescue at High Tide," a tale of the recent Alaska past, in 16 minutes.

• John Neary (storyteller, Forest Service employee on Admiralty Island) will tell "Wind Boy," observations of bears, in about 20 minutes.

Saturday morning, Nov. 20

• Emcee Anne C. Fuller

• Juneau's deaf community: TIMBER! Safari.

• Floyd Dryden Middle School students reciting winter poems, including Clyde Orcutt Moon, "Japanese;" Katie Kaplor, "I Heard a Bird Sing," by Oliver Herford; Kaylee Hubbard, "Skiing," by Marchette Chute; Hailey Pusich, "Snow Toward Evening," by Melville Cane; Amanda Gile, "Stranger in the Woods;" Anthony Staten, "Why the Bear has a Short Tail."

Tellabration!, an international day of storytelling traditionally held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, is returning to Juneau after a multi-year hiatus.

Becky Bear, Anne C. Fuller, Ishmael Hope, John Neary and others will tell stories during the two-day event, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, and 11 a.m. to noon Saturday morning, Nov. 20, at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

This year's theme is "wild places." Friday's readings will be more complicated stories for adults and kids of all ages. Saturday's stories are for kids of all ages.

"We have stories of people who live in wild places, and stories of people being rescued from wild places," said Fuller, who helped organize the event.

"It's just a time to tell stories for the sake of telling stories," she said. "We forget up here that we have so many folks who live and tell stories. Down south, it's unheard of. Up here, you go out on a fishing boat and they're going to tell stories."

This year's event was born when U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Pete Griffin got excited about storytelling and visited the National Storytelling Conference ( Once he returned, he asked Fuller for some ideas to encourage storytelling in Juneau. She mentioned Tellabration!

According to, the Connecticut Storytelling Center began Tellabration! in 1988 in six locations across the state. By 1990, the National Storytelling Network had expanded the program nationwide. By 1997, Tellabration! had spread to every continent except Antarctica.

Tellabration! was held at least three times in Juneau in the early 1990s. It jumped from Resurrection Lutheran Church to McPhetres Hall to the drama room at Juneau-Douglas High School.

"Some people came to it once and never told again; other people told and then went on to other things," Fuller said. "It was a small group of tellers, and Juneau gets busier and busier. We sort of lost momentum and stopped doing it."

Fuller will tell "Rescue At High Tide," a story about Shell Simmons and the rescue of the crew of the cargo ship Patterson, which ran aground on the Outer Coast in early December 1938.

"I think people will enjoy hearing history as it was lived," Fuller said. "It's kind of an exciting story. It reminds you of how challenging it can be in this country if you're not safe and warm indoors."

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