New festival at Center for the Creative Arts features storytellers from throughout the region

Once upon a time … a new festival was conceived for the tiny Village of Yorklyn, where storytellers could share their tales with an eager crowd.

Created by former Center for the Creative Arts director Terry Foreman, Yorklyn Photographer Carlos Alejandro, and former director of the Brandywine Storyfest Michael Wright, the Yorklyn Storytelling Festival will make its debut Oct. 18 to 20.

Featuring stories and workshops hosted by both locally and nationally renowned authors, poets and storytellers, the festival is, in Wright’s words, nothing like you’d expect.

“I think people expect librarians reading books to kids, and it’s not that,” Wright said. “It’s artists telling stories. Overcoming that idea is crucial to growing the festival. One year someone will come for their first time and be jaded in their approach, and then they realize it’s unbelievable and they'll invite more people next year.”

Featuring a roster of storytellers in many different styles and genres, Wright said that during his 10 years with the Brandywine festival, he learned how to form relationships with the artists and create a core of team that in turn creates a following of their own.

Among those artists are Delaware’s Poet Laureates, Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Albert Mills – otherwise known as The Twin Poets – who bring with them tales reflecting their views on the things impacting Delawarean lives.

“We use our medium to share out stories and come up with solutions to the issues in our community,” Chukwuocha said.

Chukwuocha said he and his brother Al are excited to bring their unique storytelling style to the Yorklyn community – a different community than the Wilmington neighborhoods and foster homes that they grew up in.

The stories themselves give a sense of connection to one another, in this time when things are so divisive,” Chukwuocha said. “They show us simple things, no matter what the divider.”

He said they’re also thankful that the organizers considered them for the inaugural event.

“It means a lot to share stories from our community, see our commonalities,” he said. “And we all have a role, to pass on values and trails that make us who we are as individuals and as the proud Americans we want to be.”

Should the new festival prove successful, Wright said he would like to see it extend to other area communities, including Wilmington.

“We’d like to see something similar at the Waterfront, or at Harriet Tubman Park, get other communities involved,” Wright said.

As far as who might want to consider attending the story festival, Wright said the crowds are quite varied and difficult to generalize.

“We get a lot of teachers and librarians, but [attendance] also crosses a lot of boundaries,” he said. “Intergenerational families are a big group. Because everything is based on story – TV, movies, business success, no matter what it is, and people make connections that way.”

The festival is run by the nonprofit Yorklyn Storytelling Festival, Inc., in partnership with Auburn Valley State Park, and the Center for the Creative Arts (CCArts).

The program is partially funded by grants from the Delaware Humanities, New Castle County, and The Hadley Memorial Fund.

In Wright’s words, it is all about promoting literacy.

“We see it as a focal point for literacy in our local area,” Wright said.

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