Niall de Búrca

Courtesy Photo

Niall de Búrca

Ojai Storytelling Festival

Three Days of Workshops, Music, and Theater Performances

Long before there was TV, radio, or newspapers, people relied on raconteurs to entertain them with clever, witty, fantastical, scary, or dramatic yarns. Even in this age of overwhelming media, storytelling lives on — witness the popularity of programs such as NPR’s The Moth, for example.

Ojai has been doing its part to keep oral traditions thriving since 1999, when the nonprofit organization Performances to Grow On (PTGO) held the town’s first Storytelling Festival. The event is still going strong, offering three days of programing that includes workshops, musical and theater performances, student outreach, and, of course, storytelling.

This year’s lineup is a who’s who of the spoken word. On the slate are pros, including Grammy winner Bill Harley, whom Entertainment Weekly deemed “the Mark Twain of contemporary children’s music”; Ireland’s Niall de Búrca, who has performed around the world; and award-winning First Nations of Maryland storyteller Dovie Thomason; as well as amateurs, such as Bill Ratner, Christine Blackburn, and Matteson Perry, three Moth winners from Los Angeles.

Perhaps one of the best things about the festival is the fire that’s ignited in those who attend. “After listening to the professional storytellers,” said PTGO President and Artistic Director Brian Bemel, “memories are rekindled in the audience, and people begin to tell their own stories.”

The Ojai Storytelling Festival takes place Thursday-Sunday, September 7-10, at the Libbey Bowl (210 S. Signal St., Ojai) and Ojai Art Center (113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai). See

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Vampire Weekend Plays for 805UndocuFund This Weekend

Will match up to $10,000 in donations for Libbey Bowl concert.

Immigration Raids Chill Santa Barbara County Community

A quiet has settled over Old Town Goleta after at least five people were grabbed by ICE ...

Seasoned Bandit’ Said to Suffer the ‘Lottery Curse’

Tip led to bank robber James Hayes, who'd hit four Santa Barbara County banks, and six others.

FEMA Reveals New Map for Montecito, Carpinteria Valley

Property owners wishing to rebuild must avoid flooding from 100-year storms.

Alleged Apple Thief Pursued

Man accused of using a stolen credit card to buy thousands of dollars' worth of computer goods.