This Saturday marks the fifth annual celebration of Tellabration, a festival that celebrates storytelling by having storytellers in the community come together to tell tales to audiences.
Tellabration, sponsored by Friends of the Talladega National Forest and the Heflin Council of the Arts, along with JSU’s Field Schools, will begin at 1 p.m.
Renee Morrison, assistant director to JSU’s Field Schools, is this year’s Tellabration organizer and has high hopes for the turn out to Talladega Mountains Natural Resource Center (also known as Cleburne County’s Mountain Center).
With attendance ranging from 50 to 200 each year since its inception in this area, Tellabration is a major event for the storytellers living in the area that helps promote the craft of narrative oration.
To begin the event, Morrison will read the Tellabration proclamation, after which each teller will be given approximately 20 minutes to mesmerize and entice the audience with their story.
After all six tellers have finished, there will be an opportunity for the audience to chat with the tellers. At that time any interested in becoming tellers themselves will be able to find out how to get started as a teller, or just enjoy the tellers speaking about their lives.
CDs and books will also be available for purchase from the tellers.
Locally, Tellabration began five years ago, but the idea was brought to birth in 1988 by J. G. Pinkerton, who “dreamed of having a night each year when storytellers in each community got together and told stories to their families and friends.” So many liked Pinkerton’s idea that they sought to make it a reality.
One of Pinkerton’s major motives for founding Tellabration is that “through storytelling, we can draw closer together. Storytelling reaches all around the world and across all generations, reminding us of our common humanity.”
Storytelling is considered an art form, proven by the fact that most states in the U.S. and other countries around the globe have a form of a national storytellers association. Members of these organizations are normal people with the gift of gab.
Morrison, mentioned above, is a member of the Alabama Storytelling Association and is both a national and international storyteller.
Each of the performers at Tellabration is either a part of the Alabama Storytelling Association, or is a long standing celebrator of the oral tradition.
The tellers at Saturday’s event will perform in a specific order, and include Finn Bille from Tennessee via Denmark; Joe Estes from Huntsville, Alabama; Renee Morrison from Anniston, Alabama and professor at JSU; Lee Piskorz from Scottsboro, Alabama; Greg Starnes from Fort Payne, Alabama; Danny Turner from McIntosh, Alabama; and Bruce Walker from Huntsville, Alabama.
The Mountain Center serves a dual purpose.
Not only is it a place for environmental awareness promotion, but Cleburne County also uses it as a base of operations for several county functions, such as emergency management and 911 services.
Always though, the Mountain Center provides a stage for JSU Field Schools and acts as a visitor center to "the highest concentration of nationally protected natural areas" in the country and stays true to the Field Schools mission of “environmental education from the deepest canyon to the highest mountain in Alabama.”