Kim Weitkamp grew up in York County, Pennsylvania as a kid who always got into trouble for talking and being the class clown. She rarely sat down for lunch but worked the tables telling jokes and tales to whomever would listen. That energy never quit, and today she uses her storytelling skills to make audiences laugh and cry. “Laughter and tears are close relatives,” she said. “They both require trust and openness.” She studied Accounting in college but soon learned that laughter instead of numbers were what really satisfied her. She worked as a youth advocate with at-risk children and teens, never realizing that she had all the gifts of a master storyteller. Not until she visited the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee did she become hooked. She told in schools, libraries and any stage that would have her. She worked several festivals throughout the United States and her efforts paid off. She was asked to perform as a regional teller at one of the main tents at Jonesboro where she received a standing ovation. She has been invited back several times since. In her work as a humorist, storyteller, singer and songwriter, she has taken home a full armload of awards and recognitions. But beware, there’s often a twist at the end of each story that will leave you heaving a sigh as she whips through her stories and leaves the listener with a tear or a smile. CLICK HERE to enjoy an excerpt of Kim’s telling at the 2012 Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.
Adam Booth grew up in West Virginia and has always felt at home telling Appalachian tales, both traditional and contemporary, but he blends those in with traditional fairy tales, tall tales and even a Greek myth to add a variety to his storytelling seldom heard. He is a former student of music composition from the University of South Carolina with a masters in music history from Case Western Reserve University. He has been a student of music theory and studied folk music with many old-time Appalachian musicians. So he often uses musical instruments to tell his stories. He is a four-time winner of the West Virginia Liar’s Competition. He has served as a Teller-In-Residence at the International Storytelling Center and been one of the new voices at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He has traveled throughout 15 states telling his tales and has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Berea Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship. He not only tells his stories well, but leaves the listener with an education as well. CLICK HERE to watch an excerpt from his original childhood tall tale “Roll-a-Rama.”.
Bil Lepp is a nationally-renowned Storyteller from West Virginia and is a five-time Champion of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest. Growing up in a family where the truth was fluid, Bil became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age. Though a champion liar, his stories often contain morsels of of truth which shed light on universal themes. Be it a hunting trip, a funeral or a visit to the dentist, Bil can find the humor in any situation. Lepp explains that while his stories may not be completely true, they are always honest. Lepp’s works have received recognition from The Parent’s Choice Foundation, The National Parenting Publications Association and the Public Library Association. Bil was awarded the National Storytelling Network’e Circle of Excellence Award. Lepp has been featured 15 times at the National Storytelling Festival and has performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and many other festivals across the country. CLICK HERE to watch Bil Lepp at the Jonesboro Festival in 2016, introduced by none other than Adam Booth.
Thomas Freese is a resident of Louisville, Kentucky, performing both entertaining and educational programs for children and adults. Many of his tales include music (he plays harmonica, guitar and other instruments) and origami as he weaves stories from world folktales and fairy tales, ghost stories, pioneer legends and Native American tales to Hispanic stories, Jack tales and even silly stories. Having studied art at the McNay Art Institute, the Southwest Craft Center and the University of New Mexico and University of Louisville, he is also a visual artist in multiple media. He holds a Master’s Degree in Expressive Therapies and practices as a registered Art Therapist and Professional Clinical Counselor. He has published five books of ghost stories and numerous haunting articles. Having told stories in schools, libraries, community centers, churches and other groups, he brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and fun to all his venues.
SHEILA ARNOLD JONES
Sheila Arnold Jones lives in Hampton, Virginia and is the CEO and Lead Performer of History’s Alive. Her major focus is performing, managing and marketing this business. She has given over 600 presentations to schools, churches, professional organizations and museums in 26 states. She also contracts with Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to present Historic Character Interpretation and to teach teachers at their Summer Teachers’ Institute. She tells a variety of stories – “whatever fits good in my mouth” – which includes but is not limited to original stories, folktales, tall tales, African-American tales, multicultural, historical and personal stories. Sheila has been performing since she was eight years old and been writing poems, plays, fiction and songs since 7th grade. She has twice been a featured “regional” storyteller at the Colonial Williamsburg Storytelling Festival and a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee where she has been invited to tell again this year. Sheila was one of the favorites at the first Paris Storytelling Festival last year and CLICK HERE to watch her performance at the National Storytelling Festival at Jonesboro, TN in 2015. (HINT: Skip ahead to the 7 minute, 30 second mark of the video to get past all the preliminaries.)