Contest Postponed 2020

The committee that has organized the Great American Story storytelling contest in Park Rapids the past four years decided to put the event on hold for 2020. The decision was made prior to the current COVID-19 situation so in hindsight it seems to have been the right call.

When a decision is made on what the future holds for this event – whether it will be in the same format or evolve into a storytelling festival or some other kind of presentation – the information will be posted here.

Heartland Arts (formerly the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council) thanks all the amazing storytellers who have participated as well as our sponsors and the Region 2 Arts Council for their support.

2019 Great American Storyteller chosen

Nicolle LaFleur of Snellman won the title of Great American Storyteller at the conclusion of Saturday night’s storytelling contest at Calvary Lutheran Church.

She received a check for $1,000. In the first round she entertained with a charming story about raising their first child in a household that included both sets of grandparents and the challenges of successfully negotiating cultural differences among them. Click here to read more…

September 3, 2019 Great American Storyteller finalists change

The lineup of finalists for the Great American Story storytelling contest recently changed from those previously announced.

Finalists, who will be participating in the storytelling contest. are Maeve Bolton of Park Rapids, Noel LaBine of Andover, Nicolle LaFleur of Snellman and Donna Marie Todd of Black Mountain, NC.

Of the four original finalists, Joe Jekot of Chicago died and Mike Speller of Crest Hill, IL, withdrew.

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council is sponsoring the fourth annual Great American Story contest for oral storytellers.

Stories are now being invited. Judges will narrow the selections to four finalists who will perform the best-told stories at an event Saturday, Sept. 28 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Park Rapids.

Audience members have commented: “Park Rapids is such a thriving artistic community … Bravo!” “Sharing something from the heart and making it real make for a powerful art.” “It takes a special person to tell stories and keep us interested.”

At the public performance, the audience will vote to select the top two storytellers among the four finalists. The two semi-finalists will be given a prompt and tell a 10-minute extemporaneous story. The audience will then select the winner.

First place storyteller will receive an award of $1,000. Second place will receive $500, and each of the other two finalists will receive $250. Lodging arrangements will be made if needed.

Entries no more than 10 minutes in length may be posted online or recorded on a CD or flash drive and mailed. Entry fee is $10. Entries must be posted on the website or, if mailed, postmarked no later than June 28. Finalists will be notified Aug. 19.

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council serves as an umbrella organization for 16 arts and cultural organizations in the greater Park Rapids area. Representatives from these arts groups, along with individual arts project champions, meet monthly to coordinate arts calendars, share information and incubate interest in new arts projects. PRLAAC also maintains a website – – and sponsors successful projects including Art Leap and Noon Hour Concerts.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota, through a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.