Grab some cotton candy and popcorn and gather around the campfire in Ewing Park for some spooky tales at the Ellwood City Library’s Eleventh Annual Storytelling Festival.
Ghost stories are just one of the activities planned for the Library’s carnival-themed event. The festival begins at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 with a performance by the NCP-Mini Stars and ends at 7:30 p.m. just in time for darkness to fall on the park as singer and songwriter Bill Pate offers his spooky Campfire Stories.
Pate is joined by four other talented storytellers including Marc Harshman (author of eleven children’s books and recently named West Virginia’s Poet Laureate), Alan Irvine (performer for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh), Tim Hartman (actor featured in “Silence of the Lambs” and “Mothman Prophecies,” storyteller, and cartoonist), and Ronald MacDonald (the red-headed symbol of MacDonald’s).
In between each 30-minute storytelling performance is a 15-minute intermission. During this time festival goers can enjoy many free activities like a horse-drawn trolley ride, face painting, musical performances by Sharon and Curt Savage, children’s games, and balloon art. Reading therapy dogs will also be in attendance.
The festival began more than a decade ago when Librarian Nancy Wallace was inspired by the Three Rivers Storytelling Festival.
“I was really impressed. They did a whole festival for storytelling,” she said.
The first Ellwood City Festival was held at the old library with about 60 people in attendance. The old library housed the festival for two more years, until festival goers outgrew the venue.
Now held at Ewing Park—thanks to a partnership between the library, the Ellwood City Historical Society, and the Ellwood City Area Chamber of Commerce—the festival draws more than 900 people.
“The festival has continued to grow each year,” Wallace said.
“The first year in the park, Allen Irvine was telling a ghost story about bats, and all of a sudden all these bats descended on the campfire area,” Wallace recalled.
She said that wasn’t the only unplanned, spooky ghost story occurrence.
“Allen Irvine was also telling a train story, and a train whistle went off.”
Wallace finds the storytelling festival to be a special time for families, children, and adults—you don’t have to be a child or have a child to attend. The event and all activities are free. Food is available for purchase at the Friends of the Library Booth.
“There is something primitive about having a campfire and a storyteller and leaving the busyness of life at home,” Wallace said. “Storytelling appeals to people on a basic level. It’s like we remember it from a past time.”