Cave Run Storytelling Festival founder and coordinator Carolyn Franzini will be running from tent to tent until late Saturday evening, guiding the reins of operations as her 15th and final year in charge.
As she unveiled plans for next year’s festival, she confessed it is her time to step down and allow Tony Pence, Main Street director at the Morehead Tourism Commission, to take over.
“I’m going to still help, but I don’t want to be in charge anymore,” Franzini said. “I’ve done that enough.”
From Thursday until Saturday, these storytellers will venture into Morehead to partake in three days of story enactments and fellowship.
Franzini is the mastermind behind all operations of the festival. She places clocks in the back of the tents for storytellers, provides them with water, books the site, oversees the festival committee and actively recruits tellers from across the country along with other duties.
Kids from 27 schools spilled onto the lakefront lawns at 9 a.m. Thursday for an especially dedicated “School Day” for storytelling activities.
Two tents were erected to support the different age groups at the festival, one for high schools and another for elementary and middle school students.
While around 300 students attended School Day, Franzini estimated around 2,500 more people from the general public will join them today and Saturday.
If there is one thing Franzini wants to ensure is preserved after she leaves, it’s the ideology behind the festival’s creation.
“I really would like people to recognize the value of their own story,” she said. “And everybody has a story… And people don’t really value their own story because they think they have to be funny or awesome, but your own story is special because it’s yours.”
And the new addition to this year’s program, Story Slam, focuses on helping people come to this realization.
During this segment anyone, young or old, is encouraged to stand up and convey his or her own tales.
But tellers contracted especially for Cave Run are professionals from San Francisco, Washington, Detroit and various other U.S. cities.
“This is a very well-known and prestigious festival in the storytelling community,” Franzini said.
When asked how the Morehead festival put itself on the map, she simply answered: word of mouth.
Each year when her festival concludes, she travels to the Jonesborough Storytelling Festival in Tenessee to recruit new minstrels, which Pence claims is the “Grand Ole Opry” of the oracle world.
Ed Stivender, hailing from a western Philadelphia suburb, met Franzini in Jonesborough and returned to Cave Run for the second time.
LANA BELLAMY is editor of The Trail Blazer at Morehead State University.
Video by Ji Heo and Patrick Brumback, Trail Blazer Media