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Sandbar Storytelling Festival to launch in Winona

February 14, 2022

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The Sandbar Storytelling Festival, the first of its kind in Minnesota, will premiere in Winona Oct. 13-15, 2022. With a mission of promoting the art of storytelling for all ages, this three-day event will include exciting performances and compelling chronicles by renowned international storytellers.

In addition to the public two-day festival Oct. 14-15, which will include food, workshops, concerts, and — of course — storytelling at Saint Mary’s University, multiple events are also planned for Winona schools, universities, and other venues on Oct. 13.

The public is invited to join in celebrating and preserving the power and pleasure of our varied cultural traditions and human experiences.

The idea for this event originated with Winonan Hywel “Taff” Roberts, president of the Sandbar Storytelling Festival. Thinking back on particularly meaningful periods in his life, Roberts was inspired to explore an annual gathering to promote the art of storytelling “as a way of teaching, understanding, respecting, and appreciating other cultures, nations, races, and religions.”

The inaugural list of festival storytellers will include:

Bil Lepp — five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars Contest. Although a champion liar, Lepp’s stories often contain morsels of truth, which present universal themes in clever and witty ways. His children’s books and audio collections have won numerous awards. He’s been featured on, and guest hosted for, NPR’s Mountain Stage.

Carolina Quiroga-Stultz — a Colombian social communicator who graduated in 2013 with a Masters in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University. Her bilingual stories explore the Native Latin American and Hispanic myths, legends, and mysteries. She is one of four teacher artists selected to undergo a year’s residency by the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through ArtsFound at San Antonio.

Rev. Robert Jones Sr. — a native Detroiter and inspirational storyteller and musician celebrating the history, humor and power of American Roots music. For more than 30 years, he has entertained and educated audiences of all ages. At the heart of his message is the belief that our cultural diversity tells a story that we should celebrate and not just tolerate. He has recorded six albums of original and traditional songs, and is the former host of award-winning radio programs on Detroit Public Radio’s WDET-FM Detroit.

Alton Takiyama-Chung — chairman of the board of directors of the National Storytelling Network. Takiyama-Chung grew up hearing the stories, superstitions, and magic of the Hawaiian Islands. He tells the stories of the plantation days, the Japanese American experience of WWII, Asian folktales, Hawaiin legends, and ghost stories. He has been a featured teller at numerous international storytelling festivals.

Regi Carpenter — the youngest daughter in a family that pulsates with contradictions. She will share these contradictions, described as religious and raucous, tender but terrible, unfortunate yet irrepressible. These tales celebrate the lives of four generations of Carpenters from Clayton, New York.

Mark your calendars and watch for additional upcoming storytelling events. Tickets will go on sale later this spring. For more information, go to