Claflin Shares Wit, Warmth, and Original Mother Moose Tales

Claflin Shares Wit, Warmth, and Original Mother Moose Tales

Willy Claflin is a master at telling stories, and his stuffed sidekick, Maynard Moose, is quite unique. As the only authentic Native American Moose currently on the festival circuit, Maynard is the last known teller of ancient Mother Moose Tales.

A favorite duo at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, Willy and Maynard have been traveling and working together since 1977. They turn familiar classics upside down and keep their audiences wondering where they’re headed as they attempt to catch a breath between laughs.

As you spend time with Willy and Maynard, you’ll discover stories you’ve never heard before (although the titles might sound a bit familiar). In The Wolf Who Cried “Sheep!, the wolf tricks his friends by continuing to fool them until they stop believing his cries and coming to his aid.

Truck Crash Christmas, a different kind of Christmas story, is the tale of a goat afflicted with Random Hostility Syndrome that drives his truck through a family’s farmhouse on Christmas morning.

In The Bully Goat Grim, competing troll heads Bertha, Gladys, and Louise do their best to knock each other out. Click on the video below for a glimpse into this hilarious story.

Willy’s original stories introduce ideas we’re not likely to have thought of—like a national sugar-eating contest—but they always end with a moral such as, “If you talk with your mouth full, the cheese could fall right out of your mouth and somebody else might get it!”

Claflin, a favorite at festivals throughout the country, has been described as a one-man festival who covers the full spectrum of spoken word entertainment. He is an accomplished guitarist and narrative ballad specialist, and his original, traditional, historical, personal, and comedic stories delight audiences of all ages. His latest one-man show is the story of his great-great aunt—the notorious and mesmerizing Victoria Claflin Woodhull. She was the first female stockbroker, as well as the first woman to make (and lose) a bid for President on the free-love ticket.

Entertaining audiences with fractured fairy tales and nonsense comes naturally for Willy and Maynard and they’ve earned numerous awards including the Storytelling World Award, NAPPA Award, Mom’s Choice Award, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Recording Award—to name just a few.

Click below to get your ticket and join us as we experience Willy and Maynard at the 2022 Timpanogos Storytelling Festival next week (September 8-10) at Ashton Gardens in Lehi, Utah.

The World Needs Storytelling

The World Needs Storytelling

Tim Lowry says no other storytelling festival does a festival quite like the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. “They put the ‘fest’ in ‘festival,’” Lowry said.

This year will be Tim’s third time as a featured teller at the Festival, and he’s looking forward to the interaction and exchange of energy and ideas. “I need this!” he said. “I’m a very social creature by nature and this gives me a chance to interact.”

Tim, who grew up in Kentucky, has wanted to be in show business ever since he visited the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when he was six years old. In elementary school, he played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Jed Clampett in A Beverly Hillbillies Christmas. He also played the part of King Herod in the annual church Christmas pageant—after he proved he could look wicked when he raised one eyebrow at a time.

As a teenager, Tim formed a puppet company providing entertainment for children’s birthday parties. His fee was $20 per show, but he offered a $5 discount if they gave him a ride as he was not old enough to drive.

Tim became a storyteller when the High School National Forensic League considered dropping storytelling from its roster of competition events. “It was dearly loved, and it would’ve been really sad to lose it. We made such a fuss that when they entered me for the competition, I couldn’t turn it down.” Lowry went on to tell stories all through high school and very quickly saw that it could be a career for him—it was the perfect combination of show business and human interaction.

An award-winning high school drama student, Tim toured the United States in 1987 with a Broadway-style musical, performing in more than a dozen states. As a theater major in college, Tim studied Shakespeare and romantic opera, but when he took a storytelling class, he found himself at home. After college, he taught English language arts for five years, but his love of show business caused some to consider his teaching methods “unorthodox and disruptive.” In 2000, Tim left the classroom to pursue a career as a professional storyteller because he believes the world needs storytelling. (Ironically, he is now an educational consultant, bringing creative and innovative programs to schools across the country.)

In 2012, Tim began touring nationally on the storytelling festival circuit, performing on stages from Connecticut to California. Occasionally, Tim also provides applied storytelling workshops for corporate and nonprofit groups. Tim received the Oracle Award from the National Storytelling Network in 2020 for exceptional commitment and exemplary contributions to the art of storytelling in the Southeastern Region of the United States.

Tim loves storytelling because the stories are never the same twice. “That’s the great difference between storytelling and other theater pieces,” he explained. “Other live theater is very carefully planned. Storytelling is organic with the stories chosen and told in response to audience reaction and makeup.”

Tim is hoping to introduce Smokey and Stinky to this year’s Festival crowds and intends to tell a “very tasteful” story about the COVID-19 virus, Helen Keller on Zoom!

Get your tickets now and join us on September 8-10 in Lehi, Utah’s stunning Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point.

Simon Brooks—Raised on Stories, Ancient Hills, and Castles

Simon Brooks—Raised on Stories, Ancient Hills, and Castles

It’s no wonder British storyteller Simon Brooks has been telling stories since childhood—he was often taken to the places where those stories began: ancient hills, standing stones, and castles.

A master storyteller, Brooks tells folktales and historical tales along with personal stories and humorous tales. He has taught and performed at libraries, schools, colleges, festivals, camps, and museums. He has engaged and transfixed audiences with his powerful performances throughout the New England area, the United States, and Europe. With his Celtic bodhrán and unique tales, he combines the intensity of a solo performance with the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation—whether live or virtual.

“In my 20s I saw storytelling as a profession for me. I used to write stories and I ended up running a youth hostel where I would read stories to the kids there.”

He started his storytelling career by charging $25 an hour until a storytelling friend told him the going rate at the time was $200-$300 an hour. “It’s not about that,” he laughs. “It’s about caring for the world and connecting.”

As an acclaimed storyteller, Simon has also recorded several audio books and has four storytelling CDs: “Second-Hand Tales,” “More Second-Hand Tales,” “A Tangle of Tales,” and the recently released “Moonlit Tales.”

Both “A Tangle of Tales” and the story ‘Three Feathers’ have garnered honors from Storytelling World. In addition, Parent’s Choice recognized “More Second-Hand Tales” with Silver Honors and “A Tangle of Tales” with their Gold Award.

“There is a lot of power in stories. There are deep grains of truth in stories. Stories speak to us. They are a safe way to figure out problems.” Brooks figures he will tell stories “. . . until I drop dead on stage!”

Simon’s first performance at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival was in 2019 and he loved it. “The setting is idyllic,” he said. “There are a lot of families, and the audience is very appreciative.” He enjoys an audience that laughs. “Laughing is what I’m all about.”

Enjoy a hearty laugh with Simon at this year’s 33rd annual Festival September 8-10, 2022, in Utah’s stunning Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point or online.

Regi Carpenter Tells Stories of Personal Growth

Regi Carpenter Tells Stories of Personal Growth

Regi Carpenter had a nervous breakdown when she was 16. But instead of defining her teenage years as discouraging and sad, it was instead a real turning point, Carpenter says. “It was very positive. It became a story of recovery.”

Carpenter, now 64, is not afraid to share very personal stories. “I heard somebody tell a personal story, so I went looking for the stories I could
share. I feel very alive when I’m telling my stories—the shared experience, the shared humanity. It’s fun,” she says. “I think we need to listen to stories. Here in the world, it’s what we can do to heal ourselves and give each other the opportunity to find joy and empathy.”

Carpenter is the youngest child in a “family full of contradictions—religious and raucous, tender but terrible, unfortunate yet irrepressible” as she puts it, and “grew up in a small town on a big river with an undercurrent.” She describes herself as a ‘river rat.’

Regi has been telling stories professionally for more than 20 years. Her keynote stories remind listeners of the impact each person in the world has on others. Tales of underwater tea parties, drowning lessons, and drives to the dump give voice to multi-generational family life and feature people like her who grew up on the St. Lawrence River.

Carpenter, who was a featured teller at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival two years ago when the event was held online due to the pandemic, is excited about performing at the Festival “in person” for the first time.

Regi has received a variety of awards including the Parent’s Choice, Storytelling World, and Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media Awards. Her story “Snap!” (the true story of her battle with severe mental illness) was a winner at the Boston Story Slam. She is the founder of “Stories with Spirit,” an initiative dedicated to bringing songs of joy and hope to grieving children and the caregivers who serve them in hospices, hospitals, and homes. She has taken her solo shows and workshops to theaters, schools, and festivals on the national and international stage. Please join us as we welcome Regi to our stage!

Click below to view a thought-provoking movie by Reed Freeman about Regi’s life, Emerging: A Storyteller’s Journey.
The Truth Makes the Best Story

The Truth Makes the Best Story

Randy Evensen’s favorite storytelling audience is his grandchildren—especially when they’re around a campfire. And, since his retirement from teaching first and second grades, he’s been telling stories at local elementary schools every week. He loves that. “It’s just been fun. I love to come in and get a kid fix!” Evensen said.

Randy is 66 years old with eight children and 16 grandchildren, and has taught school for 35 years. This year will be Randy’s first time telling at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, though he told a story at the National Storytelling Festival’s Story Slam and has attended Timpanogos since its second year. Evensen believes in the uniting power of stories. “Anytime we can help people think of experiences and share their stories, that’s a good thing,” he said. “Most of my stories are personal family stories.”

Evensen idolizes Donald Davis and has been attending Donald’s storytelling workshop for years. “He (Davis) is the epitome of a storyteller,” Evensen said. “I love real stories with real consequences. I’ve been telling stories since I was kid, but I never wrote those stories down until I found Story Worth. It has been a wonderful, year-long project. Now all of my stories are in print.”

“Eighty-five percent of the stories I tell are about my childhood growing up in West Point, Utah,’’ Randy says. “In West Point during the 1950s, everyone knew everyone else. No one was afraid to pull you by the ear and drag you back home to your mom when you did something you shouldn’t have done. The other fifteen percent of my stories come from my ancestors, particularly my Grandma Emerald—my favorite person and closest companion in crime. I grew up in a family of ten. That was a huge blessing because my mom didn’t always know where I was or what I was up to. This led to some great stories.’’

When Evensen comes to an event, he takes time to visit with people before the storytelling begins. “I come to a storytelling event with something in mind, but I love to listen to the other tellers and talk to people before the event begins. I often choose stories that have been sparked by my conversation or stories I’ve heard prior to my set. It’s almost like a fun game I play before I stand up to tell. I think choosing the story is half the fun of telling. I’m always hoping my story will connect with the listener.”

Evensen says storytelling is reciprocal. “I give a story to the audience and they give back to me in the way they listen and respond. People who are engaged in stories are always changed—whether they are the teller or the listener. Stories are powerful. A story opens the door and invites us to come in. It welcomes us to make ourselves at home . . . and most of us do. We put ourselves in the story or a similar story that comes into our head. After experiencing someone else’s story, we are changed. As a teller, I feel that change in the listeners and we all come away changed.”

As for the types of stories most dear to Randy’s heart, he says, “I very seldom tell a scary story. The world needs to laugh. Anytime I can share a story that helps us forget our cares and burdens for just a few minutes, I’m all in. Let’s laugh every chance we get. I also like to stay true to the experience. The truth always gets the best laughs.”

Nestor Gomez is a GrandSLAMMER

Nestor Gomez is a GrandSLAMMER

Nestor Gomez has faced a variety of mighty challenges in his life—including having to deal with a stuttering problem. He used to be afraid to speak up in public. So, when people hear he has won 66 Moth SLAMS (a storytelling contest that requires quick thinking and fast talking), they are understandably surprised! Gomez says the SLAMS force him to come up with stories under pressure.

Gomez was born in Guatemala and lived in the United States undocumented for years before becoming a citizen, so his life has provided plenty of material to draw upon.

He told his first story at a Chicago Moth SLAM and won. SLAM stories must be based on personal, real-life experiences, are required to fit an assigned theme, and must be developed in a short time before being performed in front of an audience. Through his storytelling, Nestor has learned to draw on personal experiences and speak without the stutter he’s lived with since childhood.

Gomez is also the creator, producer, curator, and host of 80 Minutes Around the World, an immigration storytelling show that features the stories of immigrants and refugees, along with those of their descendants and allies.

In 2018 and 2019, Nestor was nominated by ALTA—The Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists of Chicago, for Outstanding Solo Performance and Storyteller of the Year.

He’s written a collection of heartwarming and hilarious stories about driving for rideshare companies in Chicago entitled, Your Driver Has Arrived. One dollar from every book sold is donated to RAICES—The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or the Ascend Educational Fund, which enables students of exceptional promise to reach their full potential through higher education.

This is Nestor’s first visit to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and to Utah. Join us in welcoming him September 8-10, 2022, at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.