Aug 28 2017

Who Will Be the Great American Storyteller?

Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (PRLAAC) issued a call to Minnesota storytellers to submit a 10-minute recorded story for competition. Storytellers responded, judges selected the top four and those finalists will travel to Park Rapids to determine who wears the Great American Storyteller crown. And who walks away with $1,000.

The live performance of finalists is scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 at Calvary Lutheran Church, Park Rapids.

The finalists are Steve Maanum of Park Rapids, Emily Mathew of Bemidji, Carol McCormick-Buchmeier of Plymouth and Jan Smith of Clitherall. The four will tell their winning stories, and the audience will vote for the top two. Those two will be given a prompt and tell an impromptu 10-minute story. The audience votes again, and the winner gets the crown. And the prize money.

Bruce Bolton, founder, owner and artistic/managing director of Long Lake Theater, will emcee the event. Guest storyteller will be Richard W. Rousseau, an active participant in the Midwest performance community for more than 50 years as an actor, director, playwright and storyteller. He is a mainstay of this region’s storytelling community and presently serves as the Minnesota liaison to the National Storytelling Network.

“We scheduled the inaugural Great American Story for the weekend of Park Rapids Art Leap,” says Paul Dove, Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council chair. “After a day of enjoying 14 studios, an Art Center, a winery and the sculpture tour, we wanted an event where locals and visitors could sit, relax and listen to a good yarn, told by amateur and professional storytellers.”

In addition to the first prize of $1000, first runner-up receives $500 and the other two receive $250. “We acknowledge and thank local and regional businesses and organizations who donated to the Great American Story,” says LuAnn Hurd-Lof. “Their support and a grant from Region 2 Arts Council made this event possible. We hope this event supports our determination to make Park Rapids an interesting place to live and an entertainment and cultural destination.”

Advance tickets at $10 per person (children 12 and under free) will be available at Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery and the Chamber Visitor Center. Tickets also will be available the evening of the event.

For more information on the Great American Story, go to the website thegreatamericanstory.org.

This activity is sponsored by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council with funding provided, in part, by a Region 2 Arts Council Grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008.

Apr 15 2017

Storytellers invited to enter contest

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

Stories are now being invited from up to 50 Minnesota storytellers. Judges will narrow the selections to four finalists who will perform the best-told stories at an event Saturday, Sept. 23 at Armory Square in Park Rapids.

“In 2016, we proved the concept of a storytelling competition,” says committee member Jerry Mevissen. “We strove for a statewide event and received submissions and selected judges from metro and out-state Minnesota. Quality of storytelling and storytelling event attendance were phenomenal.”

Saying she loved the event, an audience member added, “Park Rapids is such a thriving artistic community … Bravo!” Another who attended said she learned that “sharing something from the heart and making it real make for a powerful art.”

Entries this year will be ranked based on literary merit and strength of delivery. Criteria will include creativity and imagination, emotional impact, strong beginning, dramatic arc and resolution.

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.

For entry information and rules for the Great American Story, please go to www.thegreatamericanstory.org. 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 30.

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 – www.prlaac.org – and sponsors successful projects including Art Leap and Noon Hour Concerts.

This activity is made possible, in part, 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.

Sep 26 2016

Our winners!

Anne Dunn won the title of Great American Storyteller at the conclusion of Saturday night’s inaugural event at Armory Square.

Dunn, who now resides at Cass Lake, received a check for $1,000.

The audience chose the winners after an initial round of storytelling by finalists Dunn, Leigh Harper from Pine Point, Steve Maanum from Park Rapids and Amy Salloway from Minneapolis. Salloway won second place and was awarded $500. Harper and Maanum each received $250.

In addition to the two rounds of storytelling, Dr. Carson Gardner shared the Chi-Dewe`igan, Big Drum, story, rarely if ever told to an off-the-rez audience in English and when it’s not part of the drum ceremony itself. As a bonus, Richard Rousseau, St. Paul, also engaged the audience as the second round of ballots was being counted. Rousseau is Minnesota liaison for the National Storytelling Network. Bruce Bolton served as emcee and presented the awards.

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council sponsored the event with grants from Itasca-Mantrap and the Region 2 Arts Council funded by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund.

Aug 25 2016

The four finalists!

The four finalists for the Great American Story event have been chosen. They will tell their winning stories as part of the program from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, September 24. They are Anne Dunn from Deer River, Leigh Harper from Ponsford, Steve Maanum from Park Rapids and Amy Salloway from Minneapolis.

In addition, Dr. Carson Gardner, will be guest storyteller. A genuine Minnesota-native codger, he is a board-certified small-town family doctor and a founding member of the Park Rapids Jackpine Writers’ Bloc. He left the practice of corporate medicine in 1999. Since then he and his wife, Gail, have been living and learning on the White Earth Ojibwe/Anishinaabe Reservation. He has actually had a few poems published – even fewer prose works – and wrote lyrics for an album entitled The Heron Smiled; which helped its singer win a 2001 Native American Music Award. Gardner is bear-clan, a cedar flute player, a traditionally-observant pipestone carver, a joyful dog rescuer, a perennial student of Ojibwe language, culture and spirituality and a compulsive storyteller.

Dr. Gardner will share the Chi-Dewe`igan, Big Drum, story, rarely if ever told to an off-the-rez audience in English and when it’s not part of the drum ceremony itself. Emcee will be Bruce Bolton, founder, owner and artistic/managing director of Long Lake Theater.

This activity sponsored by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council and is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council funded by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund.

Feb 01 2016

Storytellers invited to enter new contest

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council is sponsoring a new event – the Great American Story – for oral storytellers.

For this inaugural year, stories are invited from up to 50 Minnesota storytellers beginning Sunday, May 15. Judges will narrow the selections to four finalists who will perform the best-told stories at an event Saturday, Sept. 24 at Armory Square in Park Rapids.

Entries will be ranked based on literary merit and strength of delivery. Criteria will include originality, emotional impact, strong beginning, dramatic arc and resolution.

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. All four finalists will receive one night’s lodging in Park Rapids and a celebratory meal.

For entry information and rules for the Great American Story, please go to Our Submission Page. Entries no more than 10 minutes in length may be posted online or recorded on a DVD or flash drive and mailed. Entry fee is $10.

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 – www.prlaac.org – and sponsors successful projects including Art Leap, Noon Hour Concerts and the Youth Music & Art Showcase.

This activity is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council funded by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund.