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Storytelling isn't just for kids anymore

DETROIT LAKES - It's time to leave a legacy.

The Frazee Area Arts Association is preparing for its 5th annual adult-oriented storytelling event, and adding a workshop this year to encourage others to leave their legacy to the next generations.

Friday, March 28, storytellers will gather in the Frazee Event Center to present their concert of stories, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students at the door. There will also be dessert and coffee during intermission. It is funded in part by a grant from the Lake Region Arts Council through a Minnesota State Legislative appropriation.

New this year is a workshop to be held the following morning, March 29, beginning with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and, followed by the workshop from 9 to 11 a.m. The breakfast and workshop will be held in the Frazee High School commons.

The workshop is open to anyone interested in leaving a legacy, even if they don't think their stories are all that interesting.

"There is so much preparing for a financial legacy, but not about spending a little time thinking about what's important to us as a family and society," Patricia Nunn said. Nunn helps organize the event each year and also performs.

Organizer Sharyl Ogard added that while people may think their lives are ordinary, who knows what they may seem like 50 years from now. And regardless, they're going to be interesting to the next generations of family.

"Everybody should do it (tell stories) to pass onto their descendants," she said.

Nunn said storytelling is becoming a lost art. Families don't sit down around the table or the campfire and tell stories like they once did -- they'd rather watch television.

"This will give people permission to give value in oral stories," she said of the workshop.

Pre-registration for the workshop is required by calling 218-334-2525. Cost is $10, which includes the breakfast.

Facilitating the workshop is Merrie Sue Holtan, Perham. She is a communications instructor at Minnesota State University Moorhead and the managing editor of Open magazine.

Also helping with the workshop is Bev Jackson, who coordinates the Minnesota Storytelling Festival. She is an author and an artist.

As for the performers taking part in the storytelling night, "as always, there are different people, but our lynchpin is Michael Cotter," Nunn said.

Cotter, a third-generation farmer from Austin, Minn., has appeared at the Smithsonian Institute, National Storytelling Festival, gave the keynote address at the Texas Storytelling Conference, and more.

"He tells stories of growing up on the farm. His style is natural. You'd swear you were sitting at the kitchen table (visiting with him)," Ogard said.

Other performers include Ann Zemke and Keith Bear. Zemke, of Blaine, Minn., tells the story of her grandmother, who was an orphan train rider. Zemke has also made a quilt in honor of her grandmother, based on information in her grandmother's autobiography.

Bear, who lives on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, will serve not only as a storyteller, but also as the musical guest for the evening. He will perform on the Native flute, which he makes.

"He tells the story from Nation culture and then illustrates it through music," Ogard said.

Bear has appeared at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Kennedy Center, Lewis & Clark Bicentennial and more, including cultural programs throughout Europe.

Nunn, of Frazee, started storytelling more than 15 years ago as part of her job at the Detroit Lakes Library, and now owns her own storytelling business, Spice of Life. Not only does she perform, but she has held workshops as well.

The performers, Nunn said, are top quality and "highly respected in their craft and art."

Maybe this year's new workshop will produce the next great storyteller.