We are best known for our annual storytelling festival the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of each Labor Day weekend. Though it started out as a backyard event in a small town neighborhood in 1990, it is now the largest storytelling festival in the west and sets the standard for festivals across the nation. From that humble beginning we have grown steadily each year.
In addition to the festival, we now support the annual Timpanogos Storytelling Conference and several storytelling contests and retreats. But it doesn’t stop there. We have expanded our influence to reach children in schools and youth across the country in ways we would have never imagined 24 years ago.
The Timpanogos Storytelling Institute promotes language and literacy in schools. In collaboration with the Orem Public Library, we continue to bring storytelling experiences to our children locally. The school outreach program makes it possible for students to experience exceptional educational and cultural events. We have been able to place national storytellers in many schools for once-in-a-lifetime educational programs that students would never otherwise experience. And now, at our Timpanogos Storytelling Conference and through the National Youth Storytelling Showcase (NYSS), the next generation of storytellers are learning the art of storytelling.
In January 2012, we formally incorporated as a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status and established the Timpanogos Storytelling Institute. Shortly afterward, we hired our first full-time employee. In March, we organized a board of directors which includes members of the Timpanogos Storytelling Institute and the City of Orem. This board oversees 17 different committees with over 12,500 volunteer hours being donated by these committees in 2012.
It is incredible to think that for the past 24 years, the Timpanogos Storytelling volunteers have put on the Festival and all of its related programs with the unfailing support of the City of Orem and the service of its dedicated employees.
In August 2013, we launched this website to help those who are looking for storytelling events and resources across the nation. Users will be able to find storytelling festivals, concerts, conferences, retreats, and more through the national events calendar. They will find books, CDs, DVDs, art prints, and puppets to help them enjoy storytelling and learn how to tell stories of their own. In addition, they will be able to share their own stories on the website for all to see. Keep watching to see how this site can help you enjoy the art of storytelling even more in your life!
Providing Family-Friendly Entertainment
The Timpanogos Storytelling Institute and City of Orem is committed to continuing to provide family-friendly entertainment through their annual Festival and storytelling concerts.
A Commitment to Storytelling Education
TSI and the City of Orem will continue to work together to raise up the next generation of storytellers and story lovers through their school outreach program, support of the National Youth Storytelling Showcase, and in providing
opportunities for youth to tell stories on the same stages as national tellers. In addition, TSI and the Orem Public Library will continue to build the largest storytelling resource center in the nation.
The Center for Story
TSI is in full support of the City of Orem’s efforts to build a Center for Story. This 385-seat auditorium will adjoin the Orem Public Library and will be paid for with funding from the CARE tax monies and donations from the Ashton Family Foundation, the Timpanogos Storytelling fund, and other private donors. We are excited to support a facility that will give all in the community a place to tell their stories through song, dance, music, puppets, the spoken word, and more.
In the late ’80s, Karen Ashton was serving as a member of Orem City’s Library Board. One of her goals was to activate a Friends of the Orem Public Library organization to help raise funds for a new children’s library. After attending the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, she returned to Orem, Utah and helped the Friends organization catch the vision of starting a storytelling festival of their own.
Fantasy artist, James Christensen was commissioned to create a piece of art that would portray storytelling.
The result, “Tales Beneath Timp,” depicted an old storyteller telling to mystical characters at the foot of the majestic Mt. Timpanogos mountain. The old storyteller has come to symbolize the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.
Ashton went on to convince businesses in the valley that a storytelling festival would help raise funds for a children’s library and bring quality entertainment to the area. The resulting sponsorships made the event affordable and ensured that dollars raised at the festival would help support the library.
In the meantime, the Friends continued to plan and promote an event they didn’t fully comprehend. In preparation, they pitched tents that blew over with the first gusts of wind before letting a professional company set up sturdy ones. They asked three professional storytellers to join local tellers and enlisted the help of local musicians to play between storytelling hours.
Then, after not knowing if anyone but their families would come, the Festival was underway. It was happy. It was fun. And it helped those who attended realize that they, too, had stories that needed to be shared with family and friends. And that, as they say, was only the beginning.
(Click here to read more about our history.)