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Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival

Young Harris College invites you to the second Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival to be held on the YHC campus Friday-Saturday, April 1-2, 2016.

Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival, Young Harris College, Claim Your Voice

The festival showcases the art of Southern storytelling with a particular focus on Appalachian stories, both traditional and contemporary. The GMSF offers storytelling and musical performances, children’s events, and workshops so that community members, visitors, and students of all ages and from all disciplines will not only learn about the tradition and history of our region through storytelling, but also have the opportunity to become part of its preservation.  This year features Lyn Ford, well-known Affrilachian teller, celebrated Appalachian musicians David Holt and Josh Goforth, environmentalist Doug Elliot, Circle of Excellence Award-winner Andy Offutt Irwin, balladeers Sweet Sunny South, and a special panel of YHC student tellers.

Please save the date and join us!

2016 Event Schedule

Lodging Information

Parking Information

Purchasing your tickets in advance is strongly recommended. Advance ticket sales will run through Friday, March 18, via Eventbrite. You may also purchase in advance by mailing your ticket order and check to: Dr. Amanda Lawrence, Department of English, Young Harris College, 1 College Street, Young Harris, GA 30582. Make your check payable to Young Harris College, and write "storytelling festival" in the subject line. For more information, contact or visit us on Facebook. 

Spotlight on Our Tellers:

David Holt and Josh Goforth

“Four-time Grammy Award winner David Holt and rising acoustic music star and Grammy nominee, Josh Goforth join together to bring to life the joy and spirit of old time mountain music and stories. Between them they combine the virtuosic sounds of guitar, banjo, fiddle, slide guitar, mandolin, and a world of exciting rhythm instruments from hambone (body slapping) rhythms, to spoons, stump-fiddle, rhythm bones, jaw harp, and even paper bag. It is a program of songs, stories and amazing musicianship that will appeal to all ages.

David Holt is recognized as one of the nation’s foremost folk musicians and storytellers. For 35 years he has been collecting and performing the music of the old time Southern mountaineers.  Josh is descended from many of the old-timers David learned from in the late 1960s in Lonesome Mountain, NC.  For David, combining forces with Josh is making a full circle.  Says Holt, ‘Josh is one of the finest musicians in North Carolina and is helping bring the music that is his birthright into the 21st century. Our show is about folk traditions that are exploding with creative energy and fun.’” To learn more, visit

Lyn Ford

Lyn Ford is a fourth-generation, nationally recognized, Affrilachian* storyteller, known for folktale adaptations, spooky tales, and original stories rooted in her family’s multicultural storytelling traditions; a teaching artist with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, and workshop facilitator with both OAAE and the Ohio State-Based Collaborative Initiative of the Kennedy Center; a Thurber House mentor; a writer, published in storytelling magazines and newsletters, as well as teachers' enrichment books and story anthologies, and her own books; and a recording artist with award-winning CDs. To learn more about Lyn Ford, visit

*Afrilachian or Affrilachian: of  African American heritage and history, from  the region called Appalachia.

Andy Offutt Irwin

“Some people have inner-kids. Andy Offutt Irwin has an outer-kid. With a manic Silly Putty voice, astonishing mouth noises, and hilarious stories, he is equal parts mischievous schoolboy and the Marx Brothers, peppered with a touch of the Southern balladeer. People are drawn to him like magnets to a refrigerator. And inside, it’s all Mountain Dew and Jolt Cola.

In storytelling circles, he is especially known for relating the adventures of his eighty-five-year-old-widowed-newly-minted-physician-aunt, Dr. Marguerite Van Camp, a woman who avoids curmudgeonship by keeping her finger on the pulse of
 well herself, but also the changing world around her. She steps lively through it, loving as many people as she can.

As a result, many people love Andy. Irwin was awarded the 2013 National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award, and all six of his storytelling CDs have won Storytelling Word Awards. He has appeared numerous times at the National Storytelling Festival, and a favorite annually as a Teller in Residence at International Storytelling Center.”  To learn more about Andy Offutt Irwin, visit

Sweet Sunny South

Tracy Sue Walker, Debbie From, and Hannah Sage are Sweet Sunny South, three story artists who use story, music, art, and movement to engage their audiences. Members of the Southern Order of Storytellers, this trio has perfected the “high lonesome” sound of the Appalachian balladeers. A special part of their performance is the crankie—, a hand-cranked panorama often described as a hand-made movie.  We’re looking forward to hearing the ballads of Georgia poet Byron Herbert Reece and others, enhanced by this art form. To learn more, visit and Tracy Sue Walker at and Debbie From at

Doug Elliott

Doug Elliott is a naturalist, herbalist, storyteller, basket maker, back-country guide, philosopher, and harmonica wizard. For many years made his living as a traveling herbalist, gathering and selling herbs, teas, and remedies.

He has spent a great deal of time with traditional country folk and indigenous people, learning their stories, folklore and traditional ways of relating to the natural world. In recent years he has performed and presented programs at festivals, museums, botanical gardens, nature centers and schools from Canada to the Caribbean. He has been a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival. He has lectured and performed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and conducted workshops for the Smithsonian Institution. He has led ranger training sessions for the National Park Service and guided people on wilderness experiences from down-east Maine to the Florida Everglades. He was named harmonica champion at Fiddler's Grove Festival in Union Grove, N.C. He is the author of five books, many articles in regional and national magazines, has recorded a number of award winning albums of stories and songs, and is occasionally seen on PBS-TV, and the History and National Geographic Channels.
In recent years he has received a variety of honors. The National Storytelling Network (the largest storytelling membership organization in the world) inducted him into their Circle of Excellence for ‘exceptional commitment and exemplary contribution to the art of storytelling.’ The International Herb Association presented him with the Otto Richter Award honoring his work with herbs and useful wild plants. The National Association for Interpretation (the professional organization of park rangers, naturalists, museum curators, etc.) gave him the Master Front Line Interpreter Award for his ‘mastery of interpretive techniques, program development, and design of creative projects celebrating the natural world and our human connection to nature.’” To learn more, visit

Sponsorships are available to support the Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival. Please consider a gift at one of the levels outlined here, but any size donation is very much appreciated.


Photos courtesy of Nathan Baerreis Photography.