The Great New York State Fair will launch a new, two-day event featuring the increasingly popular art form of storytelling on Friday and Saturday, August 31 and September 1. Both events will begin at 6 p.m. in the Empire Theater of the Wegmans Art & Home Center and are free of charge.
Friday night’s event will be a competition called The Great New York State Story Slam, in which 10 people will be chosen at random from audience members who have either pre-registered here or who sign up at the event. They will each have five minutes to tell a true story from their lives focused on the chosen theme of the evening: Life in New York State. Judges will choose three storytellers to receive medals and gift baskets of New York products from Taste NY, Governor Cuomo’s program highlighting products grown and made in New York State.
Saturday’s event, titled “Unravel,” will feature three true tales from master storytellers, each of whom will tell longer stories. Comedy improvisation troupes will perform after each story. Among the storytellers is Sean Kirst, author and columnist for the Buffalo News and former columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard. He will also serve as a judge for Friday night’s story slam.
“Every year, we have continued to increase our arts competition portfolio. A spoken-word competition is an excellent addition, given the growing popularity of storytelling radio and podcast programs, and public storytelling performances,” said Troy Waffner, Acting Fair Director.
Public radio station WRVO will sponsor the event. The station will record all performances and air selected performances in a special program. The Fair’s coordinators for this event are Genevieve Sponsler, who has worked with storytelling event producer The Moth, and Michelle Stantial, co-founder of the monthly Salt City Story Slam.