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CHAMBERSBURG >> Alecia Bellows hadn't planned on stopping by the Franklin County Storytelling Festival. She was out on a trip to the post office on Saturday, heard music playing and it was so good "I couldn't walk home," she said.

What Bellows heard was a band called Circa Blue entertaining guests who had come out to Chambers Fort Park for some good old-fashioned yarn-spinning and oral storytelling.

The idea for a storytelling festival had been in Denice Bigham's head for a while, but the Coyle Free Library director didn't know how to bring it to life. It wasn't until the library recently received a $3,000 donation from the Gilmore-Hoerner Endowment that Bigham knew the time was right for her idea.

Bigham said she decided that she was going to use the money to pay for the event. She had the necessary funds, and now all she needed was the talent to help her out.

She settled on three people she either knew and/or had seen before — Roy Justice, David Novak and Cindy Keller — to help make her idea a reality. She chose Justice, a self-described singing historian, because he had done many library programs before; Novak due to seeing him in a Virginia festival and enjoyed what he did; and Keller as she is a former librarian for Chambersburg Area School District and had experience in storytelling.

"I thought she would be interested in doing it and she was," Bigham said.

Justice's presentation focused on sharing background information and reasoning behind the lyrics to the songs he sang, but he also provided some historical information on the time periods the songs were from. His performances attempt to explain, through music, how we are the way we are and how we got here today.

Novak's program dealt with bedtime stories, although that's only part of his repertoire. Since he's been writing and telling stories for over 30 years, he believes that the more stories he knows, the more he has to work with.

"I have a body of work I can draw from," he said.

Keller's specialty is Appalachian Mountain stories, calling the topic her "forte." But she does have a variety of stories from which to choose.

Keller read stories to children over her many years as a librarian, and seeing their enjoyment was "pretty much how it started" as far as her becoming a storyteller.

Saturday's festival was unique for Keller in that it was her first time back to storytelling since taking a break from it.

"If this goes well today, I might be doing more," Keller said.

Keller may get a chance again next year. Bellows said he thinks Chambersburg would benefit from the Storytelling Festival becoming an annual event.

"I think it should be an annual thing. That's what our town needs more of. It brings a community together," Bellows said.

David Barr can be reached at 717-262-4752.

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