WINNSBORO — Storytelling brought people to Winnsboro from as nearby as Ridgeway and as far away as Virginia last Saturday night, as fans of tales, tall tales and stories resembling lies, gathered at Abba’s Sweet Treats and Gift Boutique for Tellabration.
Produced by local storyteller Frances O’Neal, the event catered to a handful of youth present for a while before concluding with a humorous story on men shopping with their wives.
The W.H.I.M.P.S. (Women’s Husbands Involved in Making Purchases) were topic for Rodger Ellingwood as he shared his Stone Soup Gold Medal winning story about a man who forms such a group to give men advice on how to carry a woman’s handbag, what to do if he is bored, etc.
For Ellingwood, the president of the South Carolina Storytellers Network, that story will never be written down. He wants to keep it as his own material, so the only way for people to share in his hilarious view of husbandry is to hear him live. Other storytellers shared stories they were known for, such as stories from Kentucky or from school days or about a church sermons.
Elsie White told “The Edge of the World” and the story of “A $50,000 Racehorse,” stories with themes of thankfulness that fit with the pre-Thanksgiving holiday vibe of the event.
Suzette Hawkins told the Story of the Woodcutter, an out-of-print story that she feels needs to be told. For Hawkins, “stories reflect who we are and stories tell about us and what we feel.” She also told a 1967 Greek folk tale entitled “Three Gold Pieces.”
Darion McCloud paid tribute to Alice Fay Duncan, a storyteller who mixed song into her presentations, by teaching the crowd an African song which they participated in before he told the story of Willie Jerome. “Willie Jerome” also is an out-of-print tale, one that was accompanied by the illustrations of Tyrone Jeter.
McCloud used cadence and tenor to draw the audience in and make them feel the jazz and uplifting impact Willie Jerome had on the tale’s main characters.
McCloud was a recognizable face to some in the crowd who were familiar with children’s literature. He the model for illustrations in the Caldecott Award winning book Dave, the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, a story of one a slave who was one of two South Carolina potters of his day who could make pots larger than 20 gallons.
Known for more than his visage, McCloud is a member of Story Squad, a group of storytellers, singers, musicians and visual artists who can be booked for presentations and performances for school groups, civic organizations, etc.
Around 30 people turned out for the event in what O’Neal hopes will be the first of many storytelling events like this in the area. She believes storytelling is good for the soul, for preserving history and that it can have a positive economic impact through tourism and hopes Winnsboro can tap into its rich history to make it a storytelling hub of sorts to draw in more tourists and promote the area’s heritage.