Authenticity In Focus At Powellwood Garden Storytelling Festival


The PowellsWood Garden Storytelling Festival is a potent and charming alternative to a culture dominated by self-serving stories designed to distract or mislead.  Anybody read or heard any of those lately? I thought so.

Instead, festival patrons will be treated to a day filled with tales that illuminate. Trust me: the festival is an opportunity to step away from the routines of daily life and get caught up in the rhythms of a more real world—the rhythms of a natural experience that restores the soul.

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Donald Davis

Anybody can report facts. But that’s just “telling stories,” as it were, says festival headliner and internationally-renowned “teller” Donald Davis. “It’s not a story until there’s some awareness of what was learned.” How does that work? you may ask. Well, “A good story has several things going on at once,” fills in Kevin Kling. “You’ve got the story that you’re telling, the event. And then there’s what’s underneath. The third thing is the mystery that happens inside—the something that keeps you coming back.” It’s what Nabokov called “enchantment.”

The Festival at PowellsWood Garden, now in its fifth year, aims for this effect, and audiences keep coming back. The 3-acre garden opens its gates from 9 to 5 on July 22 and 23 for a two-day extravaganza of workshops and storytelling designed to amaze and delight. And while the art of the tall tale will indeed be alive and well, you can expect a great deal of reality—Donald Davis’s “lessons learned”—to shine through.

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Tea with the Tellers

The first day of the Festival, expert storytellers work closely with small groups of learners to hone the craft of telling. These workshops are unique opportunities for adults to discover new ways of communicating, and new ways of simply being, in an intimate and enriching environment. Friday’s program also includes free programs for daycares and other children’s groups. Advance registration is required for these programs and workshops.

The second day, it’s all telling all the time as a captivating tracked program of tales are scheduled at special spots throughout the garden.

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Telling in the Perennial Borders

This year’s tellers include Adam Booth, who was raised in West Virginia. “At first I thought it was cool to just tell everyone I was a ‘Champion Liar,’” he says, “but then I started listening to everyone else and realized it should be more than just a title.” Also on the program is David Novak who will part of the supporting cast alongside fellow North Carolinian Donald Davis. When it comes to the art of stortelling, Novak points out that “science doesn’t touch on how a sunrise makes us feel. A folktale or myth captures that significance.”

Get back in touch with your feelings. Check out of the election-year babble for a couple days, and check into the festival. You’ll be very glad you did.


Saturday ticket prices start at $5 for kids up to $20 for adults, with family packages available. Friday’s workshop tickets start at $55, with full-festival passes and “Tea with the Tellers” optional (advance registration required). Visit www.powellswoodfestival.org for more details on schedule and pricing.

Day care programs, homeschool groups, and day campers are welcome to attend the festival free of charge as a part of children’s programs on Friday. Participants will hear three tellers and receive a short tour of the garden in this one-hour program. Four time slots are available; to book contact Kristine at [email protected] or by phone at 253-529-1620.

Festival parking will be accommodated at Sacajawea Park at 1401 S. Dash Point Road.  Please catch the festival shuttles, which run continuously starting at 8:45, for transportation to the garden. There is no parking at the garden during the festival except for handicapped vehicles.

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Storytime with these nationally-renowned tellers is free for daycares and children’s camps on Friday, July 22; advance booking is required

About PowellsWood Garden: Federal Way’s “Place to Restore the Soul” is funded by the PowellsWood Garden Foundation 501(c)(3). The garden is located at 430 S Dash Point Road and has been a special local destination since 2001.


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