Storytelling festival to be held on campus

On the weekend of Sept. 13, UW-Eau Claire’s Davies Center will host storytellers from the Eau Claire area to participate in the Chippewa Valley Storytelling Festival.
Rob Reid, coordinator of the event, said it was held for the first time last year as a one night “concert,” but the turnout of approximately 200 people was more than they had expected. This prompted them to bring back the event again, this time making it even bigger.
“One of the dean’s big goals is to reach out to the community … and invite them onto campus,” Reid said. “This is one way that we’re accomplishing that.”
The event is open to community members of all ages, and families are encouraged to attend as well as students and professors on campus.
“Kids are hungry for oral storytelling today. A lot of times they’re entertained by electronic entertainment and they’re exposed less and less to this oldest of art forms,” Reid said.
He also said children react immediately to these stories because they yearn for more, not having as much access to them as children 30 years ago.
The evening of Friday the 13 will be the theme for the opening day, including anything from traditional ghost stories to pirate and treasure stories and all matter in between.
The storytellers are from all around the area, and include a variety of students and professors alike. Two of these include August Rubrecht, a retired Eau Claire professor, and senior elementary education major Adam Rose.
Rubrecht was a professor in the English department for 35 years, and still lives in the area. He said that he decided to participate in the festival because it sounded fun, and also because he is a friend of Reid and wanted to help out. He usually tells humorous folk tales, but this weekend he will be trying something different.
“I don’t have many ghost stories, but the Friday the 13 theme has persuaded me to tell a true experience story,” Rubrecht said. “I’ll just say it’s about an invisible animal.”
Most of the stories Rubrecht tells are written by other people or stories from his own experiences. He said these stories are told from memory rather than read off because it adds to the experience.
Rose, the other performer, was a student in Reid’s Children’s Literature class, and his story was one of two chosen to be read in the festival. He will also be performing Friday to recite a trickster tale.
There are four main storytellers for the event that will be participating in a variety of events throughout the two day festival.
Tracy Chipman is the founder of the Hebridean Folklore Project and storyteller from Menominee.  According to the festival’s website, “her repertoire is a wild and wide open collection of folktales, wonder-stories, myth, personal narrative and original material.”
Marge Loch-Wouters is a children’s humorist from LaCrosse and has been called the “funniest woman in Wisconsin.”
Kevin McMullin is most famous for making music using parts of the body, and will be doing a music workshop on Saturday.
The last group, Sadarri & Company, will be providing a multicultural, international and bilingual aspect for the festival, and will be participating in two workshops on Saturday.
Sept. 14 will contain an array of stories, performances and workshops for the attendants to go to from 12:30 – 8:30 p.m. All events will be held in either the Dakota Ballroom, Menominee Room, or the Ho-Chunk Room in the Davies Center. Details for the events and admission pricing can be found on the UW-Eau Claire homepage.