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What's Your Story? DVD

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Our Story

  • img_3715We 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 25 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 25 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.

  • Volunteers Year 1Prologue: An introduction to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details. 

    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.)