One of the new events featured at Groundhog Days this year sort of fell into Jim May’s hands.
Grammy-nominated national storyteller and spoken word artist Minton Sparks just happened to be in the area during the festivities. And the Woodstock Opera House stage just happened to be empty on Feb. 2 – the night of Groundhog Day.
So, May thought a Groundhog Story Fest would fit right in with Woodstock’s festivities, as well as his longtime efforts to draw more attention to storytelling.
“This is part of my bucket list, to make Woodstock a national destination for storytelling,” said May, an Emmy Award-winning storyteller from McHenry County known for his family tales and books, including “The Farm on Nippersink Creek.”
Scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock, “Groundhogs, Shadows, and Country Jazz-Talkin” will feature May and Sparks, performing alongside jazz guitarist John Jackson, as well as Megan Hicks, a Philadelphia storyteller who has told groundhog tales in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, known for its legendary Groundhog Day celebration. Although the movie “Groundhog Day” was filmed in Woodstock, it was based on the Pennsylvania celebration.
The event costs $25 for adults and $20 for students at the door or through the Box Office at 815-338-5300 or www.woodstockoperahouse.com. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Groundhog Story Fest is one of numerous storytelling events May hopes to host this year.
It’ll include humor from Sparks about “small-town gossip” and other issues, as well as groundhog folklore from Hicks and May’s touching stories of family-life growing up in the 1950s and ’60s in McHenry County.
They’ll share “hilarious and thoughtful stories shedding ‘light’ on the season, the follies of the human condition and hope for sunnier futures,” according to description of the event.
For information on other Groundhog Days festivities happening Feb. 1-4 throughout Woodstock, call the Groundhog Days hotline at 815-334-2620 or visit www.woodstockgroundhog.org.