ShareThis Page

Storytelling event has new home at Winchester Thurston

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted
Joanna Demarest of Murrysville is Pittsburgh area storyteller and co-producer of Three Rivers Storytelling Festival.
Submitted
Joanna Demarest of Murrysville is Pittsburgh area storyteller and co-producer of Three Rivers Storytelling Festival.

A true tale of survival underscores the 2013 Three Rivers Storytelling Festival.

The festival, an annual festival since 2001, recently overcame a near-death experience with help from the Winchester Thurston School in Hampton.

School officials agreed to host the festival — set for Aug. 16 and 17 — after Northland Public Library in McCandless — the event's former home and birthplace — canceled this year's gathering.

“We're hopeful that this will be a partnership that is long term, that people will come to expect,” said Dionne Brelsford, director of programs at the Winchester Thurston School on Middle Road.

“Storytelling is really important in our community,” Brelsford said. “I feel that pulling this program into our community is going to strengthen the enrichment program that we already offer to students and families.”

Why did the library cancel the storytelling festival?

“Lack of funds,” said Karla Maruca, the library's acting chief operating officer. “It was created by Northland Public Library ... It was canceled by Northland Public Library.”

To save the festival — it annually draws 200 to 250 people — members of nonprofit StorySwap: The Pittsburgh Storytellers Guild set out to find a new site, plus funds for the event.

“We came together at one of our meetings and said, ‘This is not going to die,'” said storyteller Joanna Demarest, 56, of Murrysville, co-producer of the reincarnated festival, and a member of StorySwap's board of directors.

StorySwap then committed $2,000 of its funds to the event, and successfully obtained a $3,000 grant from the Grable Foundation to help stage this year's festival.

“Even before we went looking for money, we had to find a location,” Demarest said. “There were five of us who went out in the community and contacted community centers, churches, other libraries — everything we could think of — and somebody suggested to me the Winchester Thurston School.

“I contacted them, and what a reception we have received,” Demarest said. “They said, ‘Absolutely, we want you.'

“They've given us an incredible deal for the rent for the facilities,” Demarest said. “They're opening the entire school to us for the entire weekend ... So this unfortunate circumstance has become an unbelievable opportunity for us.”

StorySwap still seeks, however, an organization or individuals to sponsor a tent — estimated to cost $800 to $1,000 — for outdoor sessions at the festival, which will include performances and workshops.

People also may donate money for T-shirts or meals with festival storytellers through an online fundraising campaign at http://indiegogo.com/ projects/three-rivers- storytelling-festival.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.