Main Street Kansas: Downs does storytelling the old-fashioned way

Main Street Kansas

DOWNS, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas festival is preserving the ancient art of storytelling. Once used to pass the history of one generation down to the next, storytellers are now helping people communicate without their phones.

RELATED LINK | Kansas Storytelling Festival

It might be a silly story, an old western or even a comical confession. 

“She thought about that for a minute, and yelled, ‘Little ole boy!'” said Billy Harley, storyteller.

“Billy Earp always had, he was a wild, rich kid,” said Joe Herrington, storyteller. 

But most all of the stories get a reaction. 

“I bet it was God that sent that roach!” said Geraldine Buckley, storyteller. 

That emotion is what professional storytellers say is so good for the soul. 

“We’ve always communicated that way, but we’re getting away from it, and so I feel the value of storytelling is to get people back in that human communication,” said Herrington. 

No phones and no computers, just the spoken word, for two days during the annual storytelling festival in Downs. Organizers say it’s more than spinning a yarn.

“You can teach math through stories. You can teach history through stories. You can teach writing skills and language arts through stories. It’s a pretty universal tool,” said Glennys Doane, festival coordinator.

A really good story can even be therapeutic. 

“So often there can be healing. They’re listening to a story and thinking about a situation at home, and they’re getting answers. Or they have something heavy in their life and they need to laugh, and it’s like a mini vacation,” said Buckley. 

That shared experience, she says bonds a roomful of people in an adventure with no special effects, only pictures in their mind.

“They have entered their imagination, and they’re entranced. There’s a beauty in that,” said Herrington. 

This was the 26th year for the storytelling festival. It started small, but now attracts visitors from all over the country. 

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