Aug 20 2018

Who Will Be the Great American Storyteller?

Last spring, 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 is scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 at Calvary Lutheran Church, Park Rapids.

Finalists are Paulette Friday of Alexandria, the tandem team of Tina Rohde of Eden Prairie and Colleen Shaskin of Minnetonka, Susan Searing of Minneapolis and Rose van der Berg of Bloomington. The five 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.

Master Storyteller Richard Rousseau will once again entertain while ballots are being counted. Rousseau has been an active participant in the Midwest performance community for the past 50 years as an actor, director, playwright, and as a storyteller. His interest in storytelling was prompted by a desire to engage his audience without the aid of scripting or rehearsal. For more than 25 years he has been refining his craft in a wide variety of settings in Minnesota and across the country. Rousseau is one of the founders of the Northstar Storytelling League – predecessor to Story Arts of MN – and is currently the Minnesota liaison for the National Storytelling Network.

This year’s emcee will be Mike Carroll, a long-time resident of Park Rapids. He is now retired from 35 years with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and focuses on family, friends and community projects. He is an active member of the Park Rapids Lions and Northern Light Opera Company community theater.

Arrive early and enjoy listening to Lori Goulet Reich singing and playing folk, country, blues and traditional music.

“We scheduled the inaugural Great American Story for the weekend of Park Rapids Art Leap,” says Paul Dove of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council. “After a day of enjoying driving from studio to studio, 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 $1,000, 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 Steve Maanum, coordinator. “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.”

Tickets will be available at the door: $10 per person; students 18 and under free. For more information, go to

    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.