OREM — Karen Ashton is thrilled but not really surprised that the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is celebrating its 25th year, is financially sound and is regarded by story lovers and storytellers as one of the finest of its kind.
The festival founder knew from the beginning — when the festival was put on in her backyard garden — that it was the kind of event that would lift and enrich families for generations to come.
"I'm so thrilled," she said. "It's the manifestation of a dream come true. All of my hopes and dreams have come true in this."
Ashton said she's especially delighted with the festival's success because it's such a wholesome family event.
"Storytelling has kind of infected our whole family," she said. "I'm certainly more of a storyteller now than I was then."
In addition to the summer festival, the Timpanogos Storytelling Institute (the festival was formally incorporated in January 2012 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3)) provides school outreach opportunities, workshops and showcases.
The institute has one full-time employee and a formal board of directors to oversee 17 committees that donate more than 12,500 hours each year.
The proceeds from ticket sales have made it possible for the festival committee to help build the Orem Children's Library, make annual contributions to the library and support ongoing projects such as the Center for Story.
The festival is self-sustaining, with 30 percent of the people who attend the festival coming from out of state. People who attend and love the festival then become emissaries for the state and the area, Ashton said.
So now, 25 years later, the festival committee of volunteers readies the tents and the booths for the events that bring nationally renowned storytellers and thousands of story lovers from all around the world.
Some are beloved favorites, like master storyteller Donald Davis, five-time West Virginia Liars Champion Bill Lepp, and Grammy winners Bill Harley and David Holt.
"Davis is just a gem," Ashton said. "And he's bringing back the bow-tie!"
Some are new favorites, such as Clare Murphy, Ashton said.
"We have a super lineup," she said. "I find a new favorite every year."
The lineup for 2014 also includes Carmen Deedy, Syd Lieberman and Ed Stivender in addition to a host of local storytellers and musicians.
Ashton said there will be more than a couple of nice surprises.
"I expect we will have another 25 years," she said.
In addition to the ticketed events this year, community members and story lovers are invited to a free kick-off concert at 7 p.m. on Aug. 27 at the Shops at Riverwoods in Provo. The concert will feature Bill Harley.
If you go
What: 25th annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival
When: Aug. 28-30 (Free kick-off event Aug. 27, 7-8 p.m. at the Shops at Riverwoods gazebo in Provo)
Where: Mt. Timpanogos Canyon Park and SCERA Center for the ArtsComment on this story
How much: Festival weekend pass: $45 for adults, $40 for seniors (65 and up) and students (with ID), $30 for children (12 and under), $130 for families (up to 6 people); Single daytime pass: $25 for adults, $20 for children; Evening events: $8-$12
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.