Storyfest features three great yarn spinners
by Progress Staff
Oct 19, 2012 | 857 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GEORGE WEST – Storyfest has lined up its premier storytellers for the 24th annual Storyfest held around the Live Oak County Courthouse, according to Mary Margaret Campbell, executive director of the yearly event.

Among the top featured storytellers is “Hank the Cowdog” series creator John Erickson.

Erickson, a former cowboy and ranch manager who is gifted with a storyteller’s knack for spinning a yarn, created “Hank the Cowdog,” a smelly, smart aleck head of ranch security.

Through the eyes of Hank, Erickson gives readers a glimpse of daily life on a ranch in the West Texas Panhandle.

In 1982, Hank first appeared in The Cattleman, a magazine for adults, and was met with such success that in 1983, Erickson wrote and published The Original Adventures of “Hank the Cowdog.”

The initial 2,000 copies sold out in a mere six weeks. Soon after that first printing, the book was recorded word-for-word on audiotape.

Since then, every Hank book has been recorded, making Hank the longest-running, successful children’s series on audio ever.

In fact, Hank is a former “Audie” winner for outstanding children’s series from the Audio Publishers’ Association.

When teachers began inviting Erickson to their schools, Hank found his most eager fans: Teachers, librarians and students alike loved him.

This popular series of books has sold more than 7.7 million copies – which have been translated into Spanish, Danish, and Chinese – and can be found in schools and libraries across the country and, indeed, around the world.

There are now 59 books and seven “audio only” stories in the Hank series.

Erickson has written another 20 books and some 500 articles spread out over both fiction and nonfiction titles.

Among his diverse book titles are “The Modern Cowboy,” “Cowboys are Partly Human,” “Ace Reid: Cowpoke,” Essays on Writing and Publishing, and his latest, “Fear’s Return.”

On Saturday, Nov. 3, Erickson will be appearing at 11:30 a.m. on the FNB Stage, 1 p.m. in the Dobie/West Performing Arts Theatre, 4:30 p.m. on the DQ Stage, and 6:30 p.m. with fellow featured storytellers on the FNB Stage, all in downtown George West around the Live Oak County Courthouse square.

Also featured is a nationally renowned storyteller, humorist, musician, public speaker, educator, whistler and show off – these are the labels visitors see on Andy Offutt Irwin’s online storyteller home page.

This nationally renowned storyteller makes his first appearance at this year’s 24th annual George West Storyfest.

The Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg, Va., calls Irwin “one of the funniest storytellers in the nation,” and the Kearney Hub in Kearney, Neb., wrote, “Funny guy, funny stories.”

With a manic Silly Putty voice, astonishing mouth noises and hilarious stories, Irwin is equal parts mischievous schoolboy and the Marx Brothers, peppered with a touch of the Southern balladeer. People are drawn to him like magnets to a refrigerator.

October 2012 marked Irwin’s fifth time as a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival, and he has been a teller in residence at International Storytelling Center six times; he has been a guest artist at La Guardia High School of Art, Music, and Performing Arts in New York (the “FAME!” school); and he has been a keynote speaker/performer at the Library of Congress-Virburnum Foundation Conference on Family Literacy. Irwin also does occasional theatrical projects for Oxford College of Emory University where he was artist in residence, 1991-2007 (he is now an artist-in-just-passing-through).

The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival observes, “Andy’s animated performances delight and entertain in the best sense of the word, surpassing any zany storyteller you’ve heard before.”

On Friday, Nov. 2, students at George West High School are in for a real treat when Irwin tells his “zany” stories on their campus as part of Storyfest’s Storytelling in the Schools program.

Then on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the festival, Irwin will be appearing at 10:30 a.m. on the FNB Stage, 1:30 p.m. in the Dobie/West Performing Arts Theatre, 4 p.m. on the GW Stage, and 6:30 p.m. with his fellow featured storytellers on the FNB Stage.

Also featured this year at the 24th Storyfest is award-winning storyteller/actress/writer, Bernadette Nason.

She hails from England, lives in Austin and has performed all over the world. 

She is acclaimed both for her spirited re-telling of multicultural folktales and for her personal stories pulled from the contrasting lifestyles of the many places she’s lived.

She brings stories to life with facial expressions, character voices and amazing energy, drawing from her cultural experiences to highlight universal truths and life lessons learned through her travels. 

Nason joins Erickson and Irwin as a featured storyteller at the 24th annual Storyfest on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Nason’s goal “is to expose the public to the beauty and truth found in folklore from around the world. My revitalized tales shine from within an entertaining, modern framework crafted in the timeless tradition of storytelling.”

A touring artist on the Texas Commission on the Arts’ roster, Nason also has the distinction of being a winner of the Austin Critics’ Table Award for “Conspicuous Versatility.” 

She had the dubious distinction of winning the Biggest Liar in the 2010 Houston Contest.

On Friday, Nov. 2, students in the George West school district will be mesmerized when Nason tells her stories on their campus as part of Storyfest’s Storytelling in the Schools program.

Glennie Burgess, head of school at St. James Episcopal School in Austin, says of Nason’s school performance, “After five minutes observing her with children, I was a fan! She is magic with children. Ms. Nason can keep their attention, entertain them with stories, and encourage them to interact with her … She is truly gifted.”

Then on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the festival, Nason will be appearing at 11 a.m. on the FNB Stage, 12:30 p.m. in the Dobie/West Performing Arts Theatre, 5 p.m. on the DQ Stage, and 6:30 p.m. with fellow featured storytellers Erickson and Irwin on the FNB Stage.

Nason has tossed her hat into the ring to compete for the title of The Biggest Liar in Texas in the Texas State Liars’ Contest, which takes place on the FNB Stage at 2 p.m., all in downtown George West around the Live Oak County Courthouse square.

For more information on Storyfest, visit and follow George West Storyfest on Facebook.



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