4th Annual Evanston Public Library Storytelling Festival: October 19-21, 2018

storytelling-festival-logo-no-dateJoin us at the Library and in venues throughout Downtown Evanston from October 19 through 21 for this incredible weekend of distinctive storytelling and joyful connection for people of every age. The Evanston Public Library Storytelling Festival aims to be an exciting and meaningful multi-event experience for all Evanston residents to come together in community. Storytelling is one of the unique activities that makes us human. Come celebrate the best of our common humanity as we welcome these amazing, award-winning storytellers to Evanston. (View the complete schedule)

2018 Featured Storytellers:

Kucha and TonyKucha Brownlee and Baba Tony Brown are traveling artists who have performed for more than 20 years throughout the United States. This dynamic storytelling duo combines their talents and experience to bring magical moments to their performances for all ages. Their compelling storytelling is accompanied by singing and energetic instrumentation, audience participation, drumming, singing, learning, and lots of fun. Kucha came to storytelling by way of theater, touring the Midwest and Canada with several children’s theater companies. Baba Tony, a public speaker and trainer prior to storytelling, is also a certified coach facilitator, plays an array of instruments, and teaches the primary foundation skills of drumming (Djembe). Kucha and Baba Tony facilitate storytelling and drumming workshops and three day retreats. They have led workshops for the Department of Children and Family Services, Umoja, Inc., Alliance Library System, the Spirit Lights Foundation, Inc., and Public Allies to name a few. They believe stories are sacred and love sharing their experiences.


Bill HarleyBill Harley tells stories. As an author, storyteller, songwriter, playwright, speaker, and workshop leader, his work is genuine, irreverent, universal, and original, painting a vibrant, hilarious picture of American life. His fifteen books have won many national awards, and his thirty-six recordings have won honors, including six Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards. His work has influenced a generation of children, parents, performing artists and educators. In the 40 years since Bill picked up a guitar and started telling stories, he has toured nationally and internationally, sharing the stage with the likes of Sting, Pete Seeger, and scores of elementary school choirs. For 20 years, he was a regular commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, has delivered keynotes to educators and librarians in Japan and India, and authored a book about the importance of communication between parents and children. Bill is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Letters from Hamilton College. He has been inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Children’s Music Network and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. Harley’s work is always about story, community, and connection. For more information, please visit www.billharley.com


Jeremy SchaeferJeremy Schaefer tours original storytelling assemblies to Chicagoland schools through Urban Gateways. He hosts and co-produces The Sidesplitter, an evening of funny people telling funny stories at Laugh Out Loud Theater in Schaumburg, Illinois. His solo shows have appeared at theaters and fringe festivals throught the Midwest. What’s a Wedding Got to Do With It won the Producers Award at Elgin Fringe Festival in 2016. As a playwright, Jeremy has created dozens of performances for young audiences. His most recent play, Games Dad Didn’t Play, toured St. Louis schools with Metro Theater Company. He recently wrapped up performances of the original solo show, Tully’s Monster, at The Field Museum along with the development process for an original adaptation of Aesop’s Fables with The Magik Theatre in San Antonio. Find Jeremy online at www.jeremytellsstories.com

2018 Special Guest Storytellers

Nestor “The Boss” Gomez was born in Guatemala and came to the USA undocumented with his siblings in the mid-80s. He has lived in Chicago for the last three decades. Nestor told his first story at a Moth Slam as a way to get over the stuttering that plagued his childhood. He won the Slam that night and has not stopped telling stories ever since. He currently holds the record for most Chicago Moth Slam wins: more than 30 Moth Slams and three Moth Grand Slams. His stories have been featured on several national radio shows. However, if you ask Nestor he will tell you that his greatest achievements are: making his family and mom proud, his two kids, and winning the heart of his wife, “Sweet Mel.” Nestor hosts, curates, and produces his own show, 80 Minutes Around the World Immigration Stories, which highlights the stories of immigrants and allies. Find out more about Nestor on his website: nestorgomezstoryteller.com

Anne ShimojimaAnne Shimojima has delighted audiences across the country for more than 30 years with folk tales, literary stories, and her Japanese American family’s World War II incarceration camp story. She first started telling stories as an elementary school library media specialist, enriching the curriculum and teaching her students to be storytellers, too. Anne has performed at such venues as the National Storytelling Festival, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Chicago History Museum, Hans Christian Andersen Statue in Central Park, the Illinois Storytelling Festival, the 1st Asian American Storytelling Festival, and as Teller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center. She served on the board of the Wild Onion Storytelling Celebration here in Chicago and also gives workshops on storytelling in education and the creation of family history projects. In 2017, Anne was thrilled to create her first CD, Sakura Tales: Stories from Japan. Please visit Anne’s website at www.anneshimojima.com to learn more about her work.


  • Student storytellers from Northwestern University and other local schools,
  • Poetry readings from Joanne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Award Winners
  • Opportunities to learn:  Workshop and Panel Discussion
  • Opportunities to tell your own stories at Do Not Submit Open Mic session
  • LGBTQ stories from Chicago’s OUTspoken!
  • This Much Is True, a curated storytelling show featuring true personal stories from some of Chicago’s most fascinating people


Downtown Evanston including the Evanston Public Library, Bookends and Beginnings,  The Celtic Knot Public House, The Merion, and the Woman’s Club of Evanston.


2017 Storytelling Festival Images
Photography by Lynn Trautmann, LT Photo.





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