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Last year, for the first time in a long while, I was able to venture outside of the Lost Coast and do some wandering again across this land, greeting old friends and fans and meeting new ones along the way. Over the next few months I'll be chronicling these hauntings in picture and verse. I hope you enjoy my detailing of two pre-Halloween events I've enjoyed in past years…

 

...AND THEREIN LAYS THE TALE!

 

For the past several years I've been privileged to take part in a local annual storytelling event that has grown from somewhat modest roots into a festival that attracts storytelling from across the United States and around the globe! Professional Tellers of great renown, such as the immeasurable Baba Jamal Koram, delightful Angela Lloyd, Irish storyteller Liz Weir, Latina teller Olga Loya, Michael Parent and Beth Horner have made their way to the town of Trinidad, CA, to take part in the two-day event, and returned to their homes singing the praises of the Lost Coast, its people and their enthusiasm for the spoken word.

Every Friday evening during past festivals, the guest tellers, as well as various members of the host group the North Coast Storytellers, have participated in an show titled "Mostly Ghostly", all taking turns telling frightful tales of spectres and spooks, ghosts, monsters and other forces both dark and delightful. And since I've had a great deal of experience in such matters, I have been asked to host the event for the past several years, introducing each performer and finishing up with one of my own tales to send the patrons out into the cool September night. Quite often the festival has been held in Patrick Points State Park, in an amphitheatre used for traveling performers, and the dark redwoods surrounding us, coupled with the light from the blazing campfire and the sound of the sea crashing against the rocky shore in the background as proven most appropriate for ghostly mischief.

 

A rare image of Yours Truly operating my human companion's automobile. (Well, I did know the way to get there…)

This witchy familiar was waiting at a house up the street from the Festival. He seemed a perfect companion for an evening of ghostly tales!

Alas, because of concerns over state budget cutting and whether or not the park would be available, last years festival was held in the Trinidad Town Hall , a handsome building in the center of town. It was a comfortable substitute, but I missed the atmosphere of the park. That small disappointment aside, last year proved to be a very exciting time of everyone on the NCS. Because it was the tenth anniversary of the festival, it was decided that there wouldn't be any storytellers invited from outside the region. All performances were to be given by the North Coast Storytellers themselves! It was an exciting time, and I personally looked forward to full sets of performances by my then fellow members Ali Freedlund,   Anita Punla, Aaron Garrett,   Carol Larsen, Charlene Storr,   Dan O'Gara,   Ross Mackinney,   Seabury Gould, Paul Woodland, Greg O'Rourke, and Elizabeth Lara-O'Rourke, as well as Yours Truly performing his set just before hosting the "Mostly Ghostly" event as always.

 

And what a time was had by everyone! There was some concern that, because there was not a huge name to draw in the patrons as in previous years, there would be a noticeably smaller audience. However, that didn't seem the case during the event, although I'm told the economy did keep attendance down somewhat. Still, those that were able to come were gifted with talents and tales of every possible variety, from Native American legends by Carol, Charlene, Greg and Elizabeth, to Irish tales from Dan and my companion Seabury. Among the many highlights (for me, at least, was Ali's whimsical tale of bugs being born in the tall trees, Paul's hysterical account of his first attempts at driving in San Francisco, and Ross's heartbreaking fairy tale of true love gone astray. Aaron entertained the crowd between stories with his ballads, and the entire event was overseen by Anita, who again did yeoman's work in getting everything organized!

Spinning my tales during the Friday evening “Mostly Ghostly”.

For myself, I began my set entering from the back and stalking through the unsuspecting audience for my "jump" tale "Who Do You Come For?" that set the tone of Friday evening. Seabury then joined me for musical accompaniment for my versions of "The Two Sister" and "The Runaway Coffin", which the audience seemed to enjoy greatly. I went over my allotted time, much to my chagrin and some grumbling from my fellow entertainers, but the audience didn't seem to mind. After a short break, I introduced many of my fellow performers, who did their best to chill the marrow of everyone in the audience. I finished up with a retelling of the classic "The Black Velvet Band", which I dedicated to my young companion Lily.

 

It was a pleasure to see my young friend Tallulah there again; she had enjoyed my company so much last year, and I was happy to make her reacquaintence. And another of my young friends from years past, Hazyl, also attended! She was wearing her "Carpathian" shirt, one of the T-shirts we had available several years ago. It was very well worn and stained, and I asked if she wore it all the time. She nodded, "It's my favorite shirt!" How wonderful! Of course, once Tallulah saw it, she wanted one herself. I contacted my human companions, and they were still able to find one just her size. She wore it the rest of the time!

Closing night saw all the performers gather for the final event; a group telling to close out the year. Wanting to leave them laughing, as the saying goes, I regaled them with a favorite, "The Leprechaun Vampire" by Charles Fritch, and thanked all our customers for attending. I was determined to finish with a grand tale, because I thought it might be my last year at the event. (I am no longer a member of the North Coast Storytellers for a number of reasons.) But I was invited back this year as a Special Guest, along with Featured Teller Charlie Chin! I am very happy that I'll be seeing everyone again, and look forward to September. 

 

 I usually include the Storytelling By The Sea Festival as the early beginning of my Halloween Season. (I find that fair, considering the number of spectral stories surrounding it.) But I suppose the actual beginning of the October Season arrives with the Medieval Festival Of Courage, held every year in Arcata. This local Renaissance Faire has been growing admirably for the past few years since its inception, and now includes jousting knights, magicians, acrobats, crafts and wares of every shape and size, dancers, singers and other performers, including a certain wanderer you may be acquainted with. There are games for the youngsters, livestock for petting, and enough drink to overflow your flagon.

An appreciative and eclectic collection of Renaissance performers and
modern-age Faire-goers attend a tale from a spectral wanderer .

 

"It was a dark and stormy medieval night…!”



An obviously spellbound audience…

 

This year I was again joined by several local companions: Shoshana and her lovely dancers, the Irish group Good Company, and many others. The chessmaster was there, and once again challenged me to a friendly game, which he proceeded to win in less than 30 moves. (Alas, I'm not the player my Cousin is...) There was a medieval recorder group from the local school, and a troupe of young actors performing Shakespeare. Two comic magicians enthralled the crowd with their prestidigitation and their ridiculous antics. The storybook path again had their legendary figures waiting to greet the wide-eyed youngsters that ventured in to meet Robin Hood, King Arthur, and the dozen other characters. There were archers who kindly invited me to try their wares and attempt to strike home with their targets; suffice to say, I am no better at archery than I appear to be at chess...

It was a lovely two days with perfect weather; there was none of the high, heavy winds that threatened to blow everything asunder the previous year.

 

 The jousting troupe was a new company from previous years, and included many female knights (which the leader informed the public was quite correct historically; there were many young ladies that took up arms and added their swords to just cause in those perilous times). I was very pleased to meet each and every one.

In the end, it was a wonderful time, with just a bit of troubling news: the location where the festival was held was not to be available this year. Happily, we are returning to the grove where the festival was first held, filled with trees and bushes to provided shading and protection from the wind. (I actually prefer that location to the last one!) I have been invited back for the 2010 festival, and look forward to meeting all my Lords, Ladies, Damsels, Squires, and Country Folk when I again make my way back through time!

Thank you so much to everyone to attended both events, and the organizers who work so hard to make each a great success! I hope to see you all again very soon!

This photo was taken by the Gypsy, proprietress of The Clay Goddess, the booth I am frequenting, featuring her hand-crafted glass and clay wares of goblets, mugs and jewelry.

 

I want to offer a very special thank you to Tessa Thornberry for her excellent photographs!

 


© 2008 Patient Creatures Ltd.