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Meet the Festival 2017 Storytellers

Sara deBeer

Sara de Beer A ninety-one-year-old observed, "As I listen to Sara’s stories, I ask myself how would I react? Would I react the same way as the people in the story? It’s mind-building."

A fifth-grader confided, "Ever since the day I heard one of Sara’s stories, it always feels like no one is around me and I am an actual character in the story."

Working as a storyteller since 1978, Sara deBeer’s great love is telling traditional folktales from world cultures.

She is a teaching artist for Hartford Performs! and HOTS Schools as well as the Connecticut Storytelling Center’s Storytelling-in-Education program.

Sara also shares stories with listeners in independent and assisted-living residences.

She has performed at “Sharing the Fire” and is the recipient of the 2004 Barbara Reed Award for Distinguished and Outstanding Service to the Connecticut Storytelling Community.

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Kate Dudding

kate Dudding Kate Dudding creates entertaining, heartwarming, and memorable stories about real people who made a difference.

She tells stories at venues in the Northeastern USA including The Clearwater Festival (Croton-on-Hudson, NY), First Night Saratoga (Saratoga Springs, NY), and The Norman Rockwell Museum (Stockbridge, MA).

Kate has been commissioned to create stories by The New-York Historical Society, New York City; The Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Albany; The Empire State Aerosciences Museum, Schenectady; and Easton Library.

Each of her four CDs has received a national award. In 2010, she won the story slam at the National Storytelling Conference in Los Angeles.

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Joe Flood

Joe Flood Joe Flood’s long musical adventures have taken him from working the streets of Paris with Madeleine Peyroux and the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band to writing songs with Levon Helm of The Band.

Along the way, Joe has played with tap dancers in New Orleans, Cubans in Key West, gypsies in France and Italy, and as a sideman with many of the great names in American roots music.

His fifth and most recent CD, Songs From the Bend in the River, is a tribute to three 19th century songwriters from Middletown, Connecticut, where he grew up.

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Sheila Arnold Jones

Sheila Arnold Jones Master Storyteller Sheila Arnold Jones has been gifted with performance skills and has been using this talent since she was eight years old.

She has been a full-time Storyteller since 2003, sharing a variety of stories - "whatever fits in her mouth."

She travels throughout the country providing Stories, Historic Character Presentations, Christian Monologues, and Professional Development for Educators to schools, churches, libraries, organizations, and Storytelling Festivals, including the 2015 National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, TN.

Sheila is often interactive and many times intersperses stories with song.

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Bil Lepp

Bil LeppBil’s humorous, family friendly tall-tales and stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages and from all walks of life.

Though a five time champion of the WV Liars’s Contest, Lepp’s stories often contain morsels of truth which present universal themes in clever and witty ways.

Audiences all across the country, from grade schools to corporate execs to the Comedy Central’s Hudson stage, have been delighted by Bil’s mirthful tales and delightful insights into everyday life.

Bil’s books and audio collections have won awards including the PEN Steven Kroll Award for Children’s Book Writing, Parents’ Choice Gold awards, and awards from the National Parenting Publications Assoc., and the Public Library Association.

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Sharon Lynch

Sharon LynchSharon Lynch comes to storytelling with a Master’s degree in Education. She has a background in dance, which informs her tellings even when she is not moving.

Storytelling was a midlife discovery and Sharon credits Mara Capy with inspiring that interest. Her love of storytelling was fostered by the Connecticut Storytelling Center through its festivals, workshops, and master classes.

Sharon has told in a variety of venues including classrooms, libraries, and churches, and has been a guest speaker in college education courses in Connecticut and on Long Island.

With storytelling partner Ellie Toy, she appeared at several New England festivals under the name Kickshaw. She and Ellie also led workshops for librarians and teachers. In 1988, they produced one of the first Tellabration!s and continued to produce several more as well as other seasonal concerts.

Those experiences led Sharon to produce fundraising concerts at her church for Trust House of Hartford. In recent days, Sharon is spending more time with her young grandchildren but still tells for breakfast clubs, women’s organizations, and church groups.

Sharon’s main focus is folklore, but she especially enjoys telling a story she created about the Darn Man, one of Connecticut’s vagabonds.

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Marianne McShane

Marianne McShane A native of Northern Ireland, Marianne is known for her expressive interpretation of Irish legends and Wonder Tales.

Her lyrical storytelling transports listeners to a Celtic Otherworld of spells and enchantments.

Marianne has been featured at festivals and cultural events on both sides of the Atlantic. Last summer, she was thrilled to perform in concert with the famed Sands Family at the Ulster Fleadh, a celebration of traditional Irish arts in her hometown of Bangor. She then travelled to the West of Ireland, telling stories at Foxford’s annual Riverfest.

Marianne loves to dance and play Celtic harp, and has even been known to kick off her shoes at the end of a tale to dance a step or two!

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Julie Pasqual

Julie Pasqual Julie Pasqual is so grateful that she gets to make her living telling the wondrous stories known as folktales!

She has performed in schools, libraries, prisons and, shelters in the NY/NJ/CT area as well as in Argentina, China, and Thailand.

She brings in her background in dance, acting, clown, and her love for getting people to laugh.

Julie is also a yoga instructor, and a clown who performs in pediatric hospitals.

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Anne Rutherford

Anne Rutherford Award-winning professional storyteller Anne Rutherford travels the Pacific Northwest and beyond, regaling audiences with story, song, and the unexpected knock-knock joke.

Her specialties are Pacific NW folklore, tall tales, ghost stories, and original tales of personal adventure.

Anne is a sought-after teaching artist in the schools; her 2015 CD The Habit of Joy was a Storytelling World Award Winner. But she has also won first place at the NW Folklife Liar’s Contest three times, so don’t believe everything she tells you.

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Ellie Toy

Ellie Toy Ellie Toy has been telling stories since she was in the third grade.

Even after raising four children, nine dogs and five cats, even after managing a craft center and working as a children’s librarian, she still believes that stories are the most important thing, for they engage our imaginations and feed our spirits as nothing else can.

Ellie tells stories from many times and many places.

She is the School Program Manager for the Connecticut Storytelling Center. She and Sharon Lynch have been telling stories together for more than 20 years.

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CT Commission on Culture and Tourism Connecticut College League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling The National Storytelling Network The Graduate Institute The New Jersey Storytelling Network