Island storytelling takes centre stage at the Jabbawong Storytelling Festival

 by Bonnie Kogos

KAGAWONG—The Jabbawong Storytelling Festival taking place at the Kagawong Park Centre and outside on Saturday, July 9 promises to be such fun!  This exciting event is hosted by the Billings Economic Development Committee.

“This is our first summer community activity, and we’re delighted,” Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack, chair of Economic Development, told me happily on the phone. “Our festival will offer a rich and diverse program to capture the imagination of audiences of all ages as we celebrate traditional and contemporary storytelling. We’re devoted to connecting people, reflecting culture and inspiring discovery through the art of storytelling.”

“And Bonnie, since you’ve been writing about Manitoulin for over 30 years, we want you here to tell some stories!”

I said yes, immediately, and I’m already packed to fly to Sudbury, get my car and cross the old swing bridge

So, you are cordially invited Saturday morning at 8 am to come to the Kagawong Park Centre by the Billings committee to be our guest for a continental breakfast. Sharon and the committee have asked me to be here, and to chat, and so this will be “Breakfast with Bonnie.”

I look so forward to being here, meeting friends and readers for breakfast. Later, a short time from the podium, I’ll tell some secrets and stories about writing the newspaper column for The Sudbury Star and, occasionally, The Manitoulin Expositor. Yup, by driving deep into the frozen rhubarb with my new pick-up truck within one hour! And how my busy Manhattan-Manitoulin heart has developed over these busy, happy years! 

Even my cantankerous Unca Mudge, our self-acclaimed smartest nonagenarian on the Island, for years my severest critic, actually relented, with Auntie Em’s prodding. “Okay, Bonnie, I’ll give ya a little credit. Your columns, over the years, have, indeed endeared you to us!”

“What did that cost ya, Unca Mudge?”

“Too much…” he said, grumping on the phone.

On Saturday morning, July 9, from 8 am, you are cordially invited to be a guest to enjoy a lovely continental breakfast to be served in the main hall of Kagawong Park Centre. Then I’ll chat from the podium about how Manitoulin people, places and events continually inspire me. 

From 10 am the guest speakers will be Michael Erskine, our wonderful and deeply appreciated associate editor of The Manitoulin Expositor, who will talk about how the term “Haweater” came into use. 

Following is Mike Strobel, the retired Toronto Sun columnist, and author of ‘Small Miracles.’ 

Kim Fahner, our lovely author and poetess, who held the important designation as the fourth Poet Laureate of the City of Greater Sudbury, will delight us in her talk.

Author Chuc Willson will read from his beautiful new book, ‘The Longest Night of the People.’

Mark Seabrook, a well-known Ojibwe artist, poet, writer and performer, will read from his new book, ‘The Lottery Ticket.’

For lunch, the Old Mill Heritage Museum will host a hefty, hearty barbecue from 10:30 am until 3 pm outside at the pavilion.

As well, in the outdoor pavilion, local artists and craft makers will display their products, artwork and craft at tables to show their work.  Bring money!

On Sunday, July 10, from 11 am to 2 pm, the Economic Development Committee will host amazing story hours. Shaping these stories will be Sharon Jackson, Sharon Alkenbrack and Kerry Lavender, who is well known and appreciated on Island as our merry therapeutic clown. 

“We’ll engage children to participate in telling and developing stories,” Sharon said.  “We’ll have small buckets with sand. In the sand are story prompts, like a small shovel, a coin, or a piece of paper as story prompt. Each child will pick up something and make a story, learning how to develop stories from these prompts. The stories will be written down and hung up on our Art Tree! Other events are promised to be fun, providing laughter and learning as well. “

And Kagawong’s corner candy store, Boo Bah Lou, will be giving out candy treats for the children at this event.