LAKE IN THE HILLS – The first-ever Larsen Park Storytelling Festival brought dozens of children and adults out for a day of engagement through the spoken word Tuesday.
Five storytellers and a puppeteer entertained the crowd through a variety of stories. The event was free to the public, and the performers all agreed to volunteer their time to the festival.
“It's very different than just passively watching a TV or a movie,” said Alexa Newman, youth services librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library and organizer of Tuesday's festival. “You become involved in the story. You become part of it, and you retain it. It seems like when you go to live theater, and you hear a story told, it resonates with you.”
Newman hopes the festival, which was hosted by the Algonquin Area Public Library, the Lake in the Hills Parks and Recreation Department and Algonquin's Events and Recreation Department, will remain a yearly event.
“We're just celebrating the art of storytelling,” she said. “I personally love storytelling. It's something I feel strongly about in terms of an art form.”
The festival brought regionally and nationally known storytellers to Larsen Park, including professional actress and storyteller Paddy Lynn, puppeteer Silva Kraft-Walker, and Africa- and Europe-raised Vlada Bernhardtz, who tells stories from around the world.
Denise Farrugia has been telling folktales and literary tales for more than 35 years. Her style of engaging the audience by movement and constant eye contact kept the children and adults hanging on her every word.
“You can see the expressions on their face,” she said. “You can see how engaged they are. And that is very powerful because you know that they are right there with you.”
Plainfield couple and storytelling enthusiasts Penny and Joe Giunta were in town on vacation and decided to stop by in hopes of hearing a new story.
“You can see when they are telling the stories, they are having the children repeat it. And the expression on their face … they feel it,” Penny Giunta said. “It's really kind of neat when you see that happening because their minds are going.”
“Theres something in all of us that loves a good story,” Joe Giunta said. “I don't exactly know why, but the listening to a story and listening to it live, when someone's telling it, still has a magic to it that is better than television and anything else you can see.”