Sequel to Storytelling Festival Returns to Cary

A sold-out inaugural run at The Cary Theater last year has participants in this year’s Old North State Storytelling Festival energized and eager.

Presented by the Town of Cary and the North Carolina Storytellers Guild, the festival is back as an online experience in its second year.

“Our response last year was so great,” said Steve Tate, a storyteller from Randolph County. “Cary, it was just a perfect place. We’re really excited about this chance to keep the momentum going and look forward to the time we’ll be back in the Cary Theater and have the community there to host us.”

This year, the festival offers flexibility for viewers to enjoy it on their own time, with more than nine hours of entertainment available for a two-week period beginning Friday, Nov. 6. The purchase of a $25 household digital pass unveils the content suitable for all ages, from comedy to heartwarming stories and tear-jerkers.

“It’s very convenient,” Tate said. “You’ll have a whole 14 days to watch it whenever you want, start and stop, however you want.”

Steve Tate

This year’s lineup is headlined by national storytellers Bil Lepp, Connie Regan-Blake, Michael Reno Harrell and Mitch Capel. Raleigh storyteller Sam Pearsall adds a local flair to the event, along with fellow guild members Ramona Moore Big Eagle, Jane Owen Cunningham and Tate.

Sherry Lovett, a North Carolina folk teller and balladeer, will emcee the show, which will also include music from Triangle-based bluegrass duo Violet Bell.

The festival is a pivot from the intended live event that drew crowds to Cary in 2019. When COVID-19 shut down venues across the country, storytellers adapted to meet their audiences in other ways, which Tate says adds a new dynamic to this year’s festival.

“When we started doing storytelling online, we discovered it’s a very intimate experience,” Tate said. “So rather than sitting there in a big audience where the storyteller is however many feet away from you, you are there and this teller is looking right into your eyes and telling the story right to you. It has a much more intimate, and personal and direct feeling to it.”

Watching seven sets, including one geared toward younger audiences, viewers can be closer to the stage than ever.

The guild plans to keep the event in Cary moving forward, with the central location and resources to serve as a permanent home for the North Carolina festival. Organizers hope that normalcy can return next year, and the stories will be back on a physical stage.

“We have a vision that this annual fall festival will become a really important storytelling event that will go on and be in Cary forever,” Tate said. “And we’re modeling that after other festivals we know in other parts of the country. We haven’t really had one like that in North Carolina.”

For more information and to purchase a digital pass, visit

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