Friday, September 18, 2009

Fairs and festivals

For the past week, when I get into my car, I'm reminded of where I've been. There's still a little red clay from Oklahoma smudged on the door. Last week I was at the Choctaw (OK) Oktoberfest, performing on Friday and Saturday. Thank goodness the storytelling was in a tent (the Kinder Zelt) so I didn't have to perform in the rain. At that festival, I had bratwurst and red cabbage.
The week before I was at the KC Irish Festival, telling stories Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. I didn't have Irish food, opting instead for Scimeca's Italian sausage and a lemonade. Yum. This picture is from last year, but the fountains were dyed green this year as well.

Yesterday I was at the Kansas State Fair for a short set as part of a showcase of performers. Catfish afterwards--I don't think I've had anything quite that fried in years.

Telling stories at fairs and festivals is tricky. At some, storytelling is an add-on, something people stop to listen to for a minute or three and then move on. At some it's a small part of the children's entertainment, mixed in with crafts and bouncy houses. At some, it's well-attended and anticipated every year.

What contributes to a good festival experience,other than tasty food? Here are a few random ideas:
Advertising the storyteller specifically on the festival program.
Signs outside the venue showing the names of the storytellers and the schedule.
Scheduling at a time when there will likely be listeners.
A tent or covered stage for the performance.
Placement of the venue so that the storytelling is not competing with bands, roving performers, giant hot air balloons or petting zoos.
Good seating for the audience, close to the performer.
An effective sound system.
Bottles of water for the storyteller.
An emcee, or if there is no emcee, each performer reminding the audience to stick around for the next one.

What am I leaving out?


Brother Wolf said...

Hey - Kentucky hmmm

We have been presenting at the local street fair and the idea I am waiting to try out this October 9th is bizness cards with the time of each performance on them with a map and location. Passed out to children in the crowd as "Free Tickets."

Enjoyed your post.

Eric Wolf
Storyteller doing that storytelling thing.

Granny Sue said...

You're right, festival telling (that is not storytelling festival)is tricky. Telling in a tent is often a challenge because of competing noise. If they move you inside a building, you may not have an audience because people can't find you.Signage, advance publicity, listing in the program are all important.

Another aspect--where to change clothes if you need to do that. It can be a challenge--and a port-a-potty is not a solution! Locating a place to rest in the shade if you have several performances in a day is important so you don't get too tired. And always, of course, checking about the sound system or need for it. Often at a festival it will be promised but has to be tracked down. I carry mine with me, just in case, as well as a folding chair, a blanket, food and just never know in advance what the situation might be.

PriscillaHowe said...

I knew I could count on other storytellers to add to this post--thanks for the great suggestions! I didn't mention the Lawrence Busker Festival last month. If I do it again, I'm going to try your suggestion, Eric. That one had the issue you mention, Granny Sue: the venue was away from the main performances.

Deb said...

Parents who stick around to be sure their too-tiny kids don't steal all the focus from the storyteller?