Donald Davis is not only a seasoned and beloved storyteller at festivals across the country (including the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival since its second year), he entertains audiences with apparent ease and he’s sensitive to stuffed animals.
When Willy Claflin was telling a story in Jonesborough, Tennessee, that included his stuffed sidekick Maynard Moose, Davis decided Maynard needed an interpreter—as well as Claflin. He joined in on stage using the backup moose Claflin keeps nearby in case the real Maynard can’t tell his Mother Moose stories.
“Maynard needed somebody to sign for him, so I did that,” Davis said. “It was really fun. Willy couldn’t see him, so he couldn’t do anything to stop it, and everyone was laughing.”
Often, storytellers like Bil Lepp and Bill Harley will “interrupt” each other during their stories and kick up the comedy a notch. No one seems to mind—in fact, it’s often the highlight of the performance!
The camaraderie that develops between storytellers as they travel from festival to festival over the years is only one reason Davis loves the circuit. He also believes in the magic that happens with storytelling between the audience and the tellers.
“I’m so happy to be back (following the pandemic that created a need for festivals to meet virtually in 2020)!” Davis exclaims. “We all are.”
Davis said it’s hard to write and hone new stories without a live audience. “I couldn’t do new stuff with a camera. I’ve done a lot of writing during the past two years but without an audience, it’s difficult to get the timing.”
He said the festival schedule is now basically back to normal and people are coming back. “That was the big question, would people come back? The answer is, yes! And more!”
Davis will be featured at this year’s event slated to run September 8-10 at the Thanksgiving Point Ashton Gardens in Lehi, Utah.
Donald’s first festival appearance was at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, 42 years ago. From then on, he’s kept busy telling stories, conducting workshops, and traveling the United States.
“I didn’t choose to be a storyteller. I simply grew up in the North Carolina mountains in a world that was pre-television, with relatives who still did not even have electricity. There was a lot of visiting on porches and in living rooms and kitchens. I didn’t even know it was called storytelling!” Davis explains. “Storytelling is just what happened to and for me!”