Sierra Storytelling Festival July 22-24th

Have you been transported away into a land of mist-laden trees, valiant women and real-life heros? Have you remembered ideas that have only just started to percolate in your dreams? This is what the best storytelling does. And the Sierra Storytelling Festival is bringing together some of the most magical tellers again, this July.

The 26th annual Sierra Storytelling Festival will be held July 22-24th, featuring Maidu tales by Farrell Cunningham, Nevada County’s first Story Slam on Sunday morning, and of course nationally-known tellers. This year, Milbre Burch, the Festival’s Mistress of Ceremonies, will lead tellers Bil Lepp, Awele Makeba, Sarah Saulter, Tim Ereneta, Doug Elliott, and Antonio Sacre. You can join this august group by telling at the Story Slam. North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center produces the festival, and with their gracious setting of outdoor amphitheater and historic one-room schoolhouse, it is a location worth visiting on its own.

But what the Storytelling Festival is really about is the tellers. And this year will lead you to belly laughs and tears of understanding. Bil Lepp weaves stories that will leave you wondering if they are true. One thing is for sure, they will always be honest. An award-winning teller, he has been repeatedly featured at the National Storytelling Festival, published a novel, and released a DVD.

Sarah Saulter tells stories about people who–through choice or chance—turn their backs on safety, and step into the unknown. A professional storyteller for over 20 years, she has performed at the National Storytelling Festival and hopes that when you hear her tales, the adventurer in you will awaken.

Awele Makeba does not merely tell a tale with words: She sings her characters out of history and into your lap: she dances the struggle for equality into your arms. An internationally acclaimed actor and educator, she has performed across the United States as well as Canada, Australia, Russia, Taiwan, France and South Africa.

Tim Ereneta brings forgotten fairy tales alive again, evoking ancient stories that are as relevant today as they were at first telling, thousands of years ago. We welcome Tim to the Festival for the first time, and fittingly he will be leading our first-ever Story Slam on Sunday morning.

Doug Elliott has been a harmonica champion at the Fiddler’s Grove Festival, performer at the American Museum of Natural History, and workshop leader at the Smithsonian Institution — but what Doug really loves is to roam the woods. These days he uncovers more than just a few strange critters: He shines light on the human connection in this vibrant world.

Antonio Sacre delights in Spanish or English, to young or old with his dramatic, heartwarming tales. Awarded a Best in Fringe Festival for Excellence in Solo Performance, he has worked as an artist-in-residence with youth in four inner-city high schools of New York, Chicago, and South Central Los Angeles.

A veteran of storytelling, theater and spoken word festivals in 22 states and 12 European cities, Milbre Burch brings her classic wit and dynamic presence to our stage again. Winner of the Circle of Excellence award from the National Storytelling Network, she will light up the Festival with her brilliance.

The youngest speaker of the Maidu language, Farrell Cunningham has the stories of his
grandparents and ancestors, translating the ancient tales into English. He is also a painter and writer, has studied anthropology, and currently teaches Maidu around Nevada City. Coyote, Worldmaker and humans interact in his tales to make you sigh and wonder. Farrell will be joined by other Native Americans, introducing us into his world of magic and myth for a special session on Sunday morning only.

Find out why this festival is loved by many and hundreds travel to it every year. The festival begins on Friday evening and continues through the entire weekend. Special children’s programming occurs on Saturday morning, and if you have a story to tell sign up for Open Telling on Saturday noon.

For more information, please visit