Storytelling – including a few tall tales – drumming, spoken word, dancing and singing are just a part of the talents to be shared and learned about during the 35th Annual, “In the Tradition…..” National Storytelling Conference and Festival to be held Nov. 8-12, in Wichita.

Several hundred storytellers from across the country are expected to attend this conference of the National Association of Black Storytellers. The organization, founded in 1984, promotes and perpetuates the art of Black storytelling, part of the history, heritage and culture of African Americans.

The conference is hosted by the Wichita Griots: Keepers of the Stories, one of 15 NABS affiliate chapters. The Griots has been a participant in the association since 1998.

“The National Association of Black Storytellers is the only organization of its kind on the planet,” said Jean Pouncil-Burton, Executive Director of the Griots. “NABS has program directors, nationwide, who create storytelling feats of wonder, and concerts and celebrations of stories that go soul-deep and may be talked about for ages.”

For some, storytelling is a fun and cultural creative outlet, but for others, it’s a profession. This conference offers something for both groups. Conference attendees can work of perfecting their art during workshops, learn how to manage their storytelling business and explore storytelling ethics – is it okay to steal someone’s story? But of course, there will be lots of storytelling, including the ever popular Tall Tales Contest, with a junior and adult competition.

Tall tales, if you’re not familiar, are generally wildly exaggerated folkloric stories told for the amusement of the listeners, i.e., the fish was SO big.

Tall tales may be a part of the free public program on Wed. Nov. 8 at the Wichita Marriott Grand Ballroom, 9100 E. Corporate Hills Drive. The event opens with a reception from 6-6:45 p.m. and the program runs from 7-9 p.m. Drumming, Negro spirituals, African dancers, storytelling and spoken word performances will be among the event highlights, with talented storytellers from across the country part of the performing talent.

“When the world is on the edge of chaos and searching for its identity, storytellers will bring it back to its center, because storytellers are the keepers of our culture,” said Pouncil-Burton.

For more information about NABS and the national convention, go to For local convention information, contact: or Pouncil-Burton at 316-682-1909.

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