published Friday, February 18th, 2011

Storyteller Lyn Ford in Cleveland

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    Staff Photo by Randall Higgins/Chattanooga Times Free Press Storyteller Lyn Ford entertained Bradley County schoolchildren Thursday, including Blue Springs Elementary School, with tales from her family. The Ohio based storyteller is the featured teller today for Ocoee Story Fest, sponsored by the Cleveland Storytellers Guild and Cleveland State Community College. Ford has won national recognition for her stories for all ages, performed in 29 states and international story festivals in Ireland. The stories begin at 7 p.m. with a $5 admission or family maximum of $15.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Nationally recognized storyteller Lyn Ford brought her art to Bradley County schools Thursday and will share it with a wider audience today.

She is the featured artist this year for the 16th annual Ocoee Story Fest this evening at Cleveland State Community College.

After listening to a couple of Ford's stories based on her family's multicultural heritage, a fourth-grade girl at Blue Springs Elementary School asked, "Do you always make stories come alive?"

"Bless your heart. I hope so," Ford said. "I certainly hope so, because I want them to be a gift for you. I want you to keep it in your head and in your heart."

Ford is an Ohio teaching artist who facilitates workshops on literacy, early childhood education, storytelling and diversity. She has appeared in 29 states and at an international storytelling festival in Ireland.

Ford calls her stories "Home Fried Tales" to honor her father. Not because he was a good cook, she said, but because he seasoned and simmered his stories. So did her grandfather, Ford said.

"I am a fourth-generation storyteller, as far as we know," she said. "But I am the first to get paid for telling stories."

Like many stories, Ford said, hers are based on family heritage. In her case that is African, Caribbean and Appalachian. She said a friend of hers dubs them as "Afrolachian."

The Ocoee Story Fest is funded through the Allied Arts Council of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, storyteller Judy Baker said. The money comes from the annual Chair-ees Jubilee, an Allied Arts fundraising auction.

"When we started Ocoee Story Fest, we were thinking how nice it would be if we could bring in a national storyteller," said Sylvia Idom with the Cleveland Storytelling Guild, which is putting on the event.

With the Allied Arts Council's help, the guild has had such a storyteller each year, she said.

IF YOU GO

What: Ocoee Story Fest

Where: Cleveland State Community College

When: Today at 7 p.m.

Cost: $5 per person or $15 family maximum

ON THE WEB

www.tntellers.org, www.lynfordstoryteller.com

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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