The National Storytelling Festival takes place at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee during the first weekend of October. The three-day outdoor event features internationally known artists and tellers. The Festival attracts over 10,000 attendees. It's visited by school groups and college students as an educational experience. The Festival showcases the power and creativity of storytelling, one of the most ancient traditions throughout the world. It promotes youth storytellers and features the National Youth Storytelling Showcase participants.
The National Storytelling Festival was founded in 1973 by Jimmy Neil Smith, a high school teacher of journalism after he heard a tale on the radio about raccoon hunting in Mississippi. The first festival was held among hay bales, and wagons gathered around 60 people. Gradually, the festival that is based on the Appalachian cultural tradition of storytelling has become one of the leading in the country.
The audience is sitting under large circus tents. There are usually five or six of them gathered in one location in the city so that attendees can easily switch between tents. Storytellers are sitting on the stage or just at the head of the tents. Previous performers at The National Storytelling festival included Pete Seeger, Jay O'Callahan, Carmen Agra Deedy, Donald Davis, Andy Offutt Irwin, Kathryn Tucker Windham, Syd Lieberman, and Sheila Kay Adams. The festival was included in Top 100 Events in North America.