—by Todd Thorson

There was something for everyone at this year’s Story! Festival held in Story City last weekend, from the historical recollections of Lance Mack’s Abraham Lincoln to the inspiriational words of Stephen Trafton’s "Living Letters" of Paul. Even a traveling puppet show, featuring Monica Leo and her Eulenspiegel Puppet Theater, presented their magic, charm and delightful repertoire for young and old alike. Coupled with ideal weather, fans and interested visitors and patrons reveled in all the 8th annual story telling festival had to offer. Saturday’s Story! Market on Penn just north of Broad Street, also had quite a wide variety of vendors, food and crafts to peak attendees’ interest.

Attendance for the three-day event was good for the most part, and from this vantage point, up from last year. Over 60 people attended the "Dinner and a Story" event held Friday night at the Community Center, complete with story telling and dinner. Free showings of the Oscar-winning Lincoln movie were presented at the Story Theater on Thursday and Friday evenings, tying in nicely with Mack’s appearance as the 16th President. Many in attendance claimed they had already seen the film last spring, but because it "was so good" they were delighted to see it once again.

Children’s events were also a part of this year’s Story! Festival at the Bertha Bartlett Public Library. Story Time on Friday morning featured the Eulenspiegel Puppets, and Dan Wardell of IPTV fame made an energetic appearance on Saturday morning. All were attended by an excited bunch of kids and their parents.

The Story! Stops in the downtown area on Saturday morning, an annual festival tradition, included seven different "stories", all at various businesses on Broad Street. From Michael Cotter at Story City Floral and Garden to Julia Humphrey at NuCara Pharmacy, there were a wide assortment of tales, from personal recollections to historical anecdotes. Paul Wierson and myself staged the final stop at the historic Story Theater Grand Opera House, as an extended presentation evolved into an open house and tour for those interested in the wonderful history and surroundings of the 100 year old theater.

A couple of shows Saturday afternoon and Saturday night featured all three of this year’s story tellers, Stephen Trafton, Lance Mack and Monica Leo, and an appreciative and enthusiastic crowd turned out for both presentations.

Friday night following the dinner, "Haunted Carousel Stories" was an added attraction, as presented by Michael Cotter and Bev Jackson. Abe Lincoln made an appearance at the historical Sheldall School House on Saturday afternoon; the same school house were voters turned out to cast hand-written votes for the real life Abraham Lincoln over 150 years ago.

Stephen Trafton closed out the 2013 Story! Festival on Sunday afternoon with another of his "Living Letters" of Paul performances at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The Broadway actor also couldn’t leave town without a final ride on the antique carousel, as he and many of the committee and community members said their farewells and breathed a warm-hearted, appreciative, yet relieved, sigh of relief for a job well done. Even frequent festival participant and story teller Michael Cotter took his first ride on the classic carousel. It was indeed an enjoyable and uplifting fall weekend in Story City, with every aspect of the Story! Festival coming off without a hitch.

"With stories and music about the under ground railroad, the White House, a Roman prison and puppets from East Germany still ringing in my ears, our 2013 Story! Festival is now in the books," said Committee member Deb Mortvedt. "Thank you to our patrons, sponsors, our volunteers and our merchants. Your festival committee looks forward to next year, which will be held on September 19, 20 and 21, with Kevin Kling and Pippa White returning."

Congratulations to the Story Telling Committee for a job well done! This year’s committee members included Deb Mortvedt, Carol Ann Morris, Kate Feil, Gary Griggs, Julia Humphrey, Paul Wierson, Kurt Jensen, Cathy Van Brocklin and Aaron Lott.