Stories Gone Wild will be the focus of the 2016 Storytelling Festival at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, February 5-6. The Festival kicks off Friday night as part of Kalamazoo’s Art Hop.

Young student
ThinkStock; Helder Almeida

Storytellers Robert and Audrey Allison take storytelling and music to a whole new level, mastering a variety of instruments from all over the world and melding them with stories of emerging significance to their audiences. They have performed and taught for more than 35 years in the Great Lakes region, including seven states and Canada. This free performance will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Mary Jane Stryker Theater.

Local storyteller and sand painting artist Ralph Stocker makes his first public debut with his daughter Genevieve at 7 p.m. on Friday. Ralph, a graphic design graduate from Western Michigan University, has been choreographing live drawings in sand to music at church in Kalamazoo for years, and his daughter recently joined him. The Pen Dragon Calligraphy Guild will have a variety of pieces on display and for sale from 5-8 p.m. Calligraphy demonstrations and a video on the history of calligraphy will also be available.

The Festival continues on Saturday, February 6, with vendor tables opening at 10 a.m. Local authors, educators, and musicians will have materials available for sale. New York musician and educator Louie of Jerry Joy Music brings his high energy, passion, rhythms, and family participation show to the Museum at 11 a.m., starting a full line-up of Michigan and national storytellers. Over-the-top animated storyteller Adam Mellema returns to the stage at noon. Audiences have watched him age from a young soldier to a senior WWII vet, parade around as an elephant, and prance as a jester. This California-based producer and performer has won several awards, owns his own production company, and has produced for Disney and many others.

“Slightly odd, spontaneous, and hilarious” describes the Kalamazoo-based Crawlspace Eviction team of improv actors. Creating comedy sketches since 2003, this unique and occasionally revolving team has competed in improv festivals across the United States. This audience-driven performance begins at 1 p.m.

Stories come alive at 2 p.m. with music by the Burdick-Thorne String Quartet (BTSQ). Artists-in-Residence Julia Neckermann, Lisa A. Williams, Grace Byrd, and David Peshlakai will musically animate Mole Music by David McPhail and The Perfect Purple Feather by Hanoch Piven. From the east part of the state of Michigan, poet, author, and storyteller Jennifer Pahl Otto joins the Storytelling Festival line-up at 3 p.m. She will tell original stories featuring fun and quirky animal friends. Pahl Otto has written two children’s books, A House for Mr. Mouse and Lavender Hill Farm, and she loves creating magical and whimsical stories for adults and children.

Matt Faulkner, the festival’s featured local author, will share from some of his favorite books at 4 p.m. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Faulkner has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. His work has won wide praise for its humor, exuberance, and sensitivity. In addition, he is a contributing illustrator to national periodicals including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.

Attendance to the Museum and the Storytelling Festival is free. The Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 5, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Storytelling shirts will be on sale, while supplies last, for $10 each, and book bags will be available for $3.

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