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Snake River Storytelling staging ‘A Quarantine Christmas’ online event

Arts & Entertainment

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Storyteller Bil Lepp

IDAHO FALLS — Storytelling is a tradition that goes back to the dawn of man. It’s been a part of the Christmas season for as long as there’s been a Christmas season.

Snake River Storytelling is working to keep the telling of stories a part of Christmas 2020, even in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Snake River Storytelling, a non-profit organization that celebrates the art of story craft through both concerts and conferences, is presenting “A Quarantine Christmas”, an online variety show featuring a trio of accomplished and beloved storytellers. The show will be hosted on Zoom Saturday, December 19 and promises an evening of hilarious and heartwarming tales.

“We have three world-renowned storytellers and they’re going to be telling hilarious Christmas stories and there’s going to be a couple of songs that they’re doing,” Snake River Storytelling president Rob Burns told “It’s going to be family-friendly. All of our shows are family-friendly. There’s going to be a lot of fun, a lot of laughter and there’s be some good Christmas stuff, as well.”

“A Quarantine Christmas” features Bil Lepp, a storyteller, author and five-time winner of the West Virginia State Liars’ Contest, Regi Carpenter, an award-winning storyteller and founder of the “Stories with Spirit” creative initiative and Andy Offutt Irwin, an award-winning teller, as well as an accomplished singer-songwriter.

Songwriter Andy Offutt Irwin

Saturday’s show is also the latest in an ongoing series of events, both online and in-person, staged by Snake River Storytelling. Burns said the organization’s purpose is to inspire aspiring storytellers and help grow the art of storytelling.

“We cultivate that art of storytelling that’s been around for thousands of years,” he said. “We do concerts and we also do conferences where attendees can go and learn from people who go around the country and do this. (Attendees) get to interact with the storytellers and the storytellers hold classes. They’re writing classes, they’re performing classes for things that happen in not just the storytelling world, but the performing world as well.”

“Everybody has a story,” Burns added. “Everybody has some sort of story and they manifest it in different ways. Some manifest it in writing, some manifest it in plays and acting, others manifest it in music. One of my goals is to try and teach everybody to get their stories out.”

Burns said the passing on these storytelling skills and keep the flame of the art form burning takes on special significance during troubled times like we’re currently living through with COVID-19.

Storyteller Regi Carpenter

“With COVID, we’re losing an older generation,” he said. “There’s a really cool quote that I love that says ‘When an elderly person dies, a library is burned.’ All of that information is gone. So we encourage people after our storytelling events to go home and tell stories, ask your parents, call your mom and dad and ask them about stories about whatever. It’s not just an art form that’s going away, but with the digital age, I think we’re not looking to the past. We’re only looking to the future.”

Burns brought up another important reason for telling stories during trying times.

“Hope,” he said. “Stories always bring hope. Whether they’re stories of joy or stories of sadness, we can still gain knowledge and entertainment from stories of loved ones or of people you don’t know. Whether they’re funny or poignant or whatever it is, the beauty of storytelling is that you can get something out of any story.”

Snake River Storytelling’s “A Quarantine Christmas” show is set for Saturday, Dec. 19 at 6 pm. Tickets can be purchased through an Eventbrite link on the group’s Facebook page. You can also find more information about the group by visiting the Snake River Storytelling website.