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Teton Storytelling & Arts Festival coming to Rexburg this weekend


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Sam Payne

Attention, lovers of stories! The third annual Teton Storytelling & Arts Festival is celebrating the art and importance in storytelling this weekend.

The festival takes place in Rexburg on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and features nationally-recognized, award-winning storytellers and music, as well as arts, crafts and food from local vendors. The festival offers free daytime events to the community, along with ticketed nighttime events.

Started partially to provide the Rexburg community a cultural event when Brigham Young University-Idaho was not in session, a festival commemorating stories and storytelling seemed like just the ticket to the festival’s organizer, Rexburg Cultural Arts Director Jackie Rawlins.

“Storytelling is one of those things that brings everybody together,” Rawlins told “There’s always something that someone can draw from the stories being told. And all ages can come to it. College-student age can come and sit and be entertained, and families can come because it’s good, clean entertainment.”

Past storytelling festivals have coincided with the solar eclipse of 2017 and last year’s Madison County Fair. This year, the festival is settling into its new permanent location at the Romance Theater, which gives the community a way to beat the summer heat.

“We’ve added air conditioning so people can come in and enjoy the air conditioning while they listen to the tellers,” Rawlins said.

The air-conditioned environment will provide a perfect setting for the festival’s storytellers to spin their yarns.

One of the tellers is Bil Lepp, a comedic teller and five-time winner of the West Virginia State Liars’ Contest, whom the Charleston Gazette once called “a cross between Dr. Seuss and film noir.”

Bil Lepp

Also appearing will be Kim Weitkamp, a nationally-recognized storyteller, author and humorist who will be switching it up a bit and telling “Tales from the Dake Side.”

Kim Weitkamp

Michael Reno Harrell, an award-winning storyteller and songwriter, will fuse music and story during his performance.

Michael Reno Harrell

“All of them are nationally known tellers,” said Rawlins. “It’s amazing that they come to our festival and grace our stage.”

On Sunday, the festival showcases BYUradio host Sam Payne and Clive Romney, who is known for having written the song “Scripture Power.” They will host a show of non-denominational spiritual stories and music.

Clive Romney

These tellers will also perform free daytime shows.

Along with the storytelling performances, the festival includes a street fair with 40 vendors all offering locally-produced art, crafts and food. Rawlins hopes the festival will provide an outlet for talented locals to have their work seen.

You can find scheduling and other information for this event on the Teton Storytelling Festival website or the event’s Facebook page.

Rawlins said these tellers help their audience feel connected to something larger than themselves and enliven their imaginations.

“When someone tells us a story or makes us laugh or makes us forget our cares, it takes us into another world,” she said. “Movies can take us on that trip, but when someone tells a story, it lets us make that movie in our head.”