Sycamore Shoals Primitive Arts Festival will feature storyteller David Joe Miller

By Rozella Hardin
STAR Staff
A festive weekend is on tap for the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, which will host the 23rd Annual Traditional and Primitive Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13 and 14.
A highlight of the festival will be storytelling on Sunday, which will feature an extraordinary storyteller, David Joe Miller.
An East Tennessee native, Miller grew up in a colorful family, listening to humorous stories about its members, odd characters and times of "used-to-be." He lives on the second floor of the old five-and-dime store building overlooking Main Street in downtown Jonesborough, the town responsible for the re-birth of the art of storytelling. From this vantage he writes stories to tell to audiences everywhere.
"I believe in the power of storytelling ... I have seen how storytelling builds community and bridges differences in our society; how it nurtures the imagination in our children and how it heals a wounded spirit. I feel blessed in my ability to share this wonderful art form and touch others' lives the way I have been touched through the magic of storytelling," Miller said.
Miller began his career as fulfillment coordinator with the National Storytelling Association. As he told stories for their public and private events, he fell in love with this age old art form. He then began telling stories in schools, libraries, festivals and corporate events in the area. Now a full-time storyteller, Miller travels around the country spinning yarns and weaving lore. Traditional and contemporary stories come alive through the imagination of his listeners.
During his six years with the National Storytelling Association, Miller has participated in the production and operation of the National Storytelling Festival, the world's largest and most prestigious storytelling event. He helped to collect and develop resources sold at the festival and in the catalog for the association and its members. His behind-the-scene experiences in storytelling have proven to be a valuable asset to his storytelling career.
In 1994, Miller founded the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild, which performs every Tuesday night in downtown Jonesborough. He is now a professional storyteller, freelance writer and artistic director of "DeeJum Live Productions."
Miller tells Jack tales that he has found in the Appalachian mountains, Brer animal stories that he has heard all his life, and stories of how things came to be from a world where animals could talk. Of course, he also tells scary stories of ghouls and hobgoblins. He writes and tells personal stories and conducts workshops in narrative writing, imagination skills, visioning and basic storytelling.
The stories that Miller tells are not "just for kids," but are for the whole family.
Storytelling by David Joe Miller will be staged at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the park amphitheater.
The festival will also feature arts and crafts, and will showcase people who practice traditional arts and give them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills. These traditional arts include things like weaving and spinning cloth, cooking over an open fire, and flint knapping, the art of producing primitive tools out of stone.
Demonstrations will include: basket weaving, wood shaving, dyeing with plants, cooking cornbread and other food over an open fire, soapmaking, applebutter making, blacksmithing, and firing pottery.
Also, modern crafters will set up shop outside the fort, selling everything from handcrafted jewelry to soap to wood items. Food vendors will be on hand with a variety of goodies.
There will also be a variety of music both days.