Tales of the Cumberlands highlighted at August storytelling weekend

virginiaThe stories. The legends. The unexplained.  All of these are a part of our heritage and Appalachian history.  On Aug. 24-26, the stories will once again swirl like the mists and fog around the Pine Mountain range and through Appalachia as the Breaks Interstate Park hosts Tales of the Cumberlands: A Storytelling Event convention.

The fourth gathering of storytelling event will focus on tales from the Virginia-Kentucky border region and from the Appalachian region, from early settlement days of the region to frontier to the early to mid 20th century with plenty of legend and music sprinkled in for good measure.

The event is open to the public, and admission is free. A donation of $25 per couple or $15 per individual is suggested for the Dickenson County, Va., Food Bank.

The storytelling convention features genealogists, historians, actors, novelists and other narrators who bring multiple perspectives of mountain history and traditions. The three-day program is a mix of family lore, scholarly research and artistic performances.

This year, Jim Glanville, Sharyn McCrumb, Oakley D. Baldwin, Chief Lee Vest, Luke Bauserman, Sarah Beth Hopton, James Baldwin, Lorraine Dechter, Sarah Bates, Pierceton Hobbs and Jack Wright will be among those presenting stories, experiences, gathered information, music and group topic discussions about Appalachia at the fourth year of the event.

A post-convention tour of the street area in and around the Clintwood/Dickenson County Courthouse area has been added to this year’s program to discuss more about Oakley Dean Baldwin’s book, “Carnage in Clintwood” and the August 6, 1926 shootout between a whisky drinking sheriff and a Prohibition inspector on the street in front of the Dickenson County Courthouse. Additions to the schedule will be announced as they are secured prior to the event and made available online at the group’s Facebook page (​http://bit.do/talesofthecumberlands​).

The Breaks Interstate Park is located between Haysi, Va., and Elkhorn City, Ky., and is within driving distance of Pikeville, Ky., and McDowell County, W.Va. The event runs from 4pm on Thursday, Sept. 21, through 6pm on Saturday, Sept. 23. The Jenkins area tour is planned for Sunday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pre-registration for the storytelling convention is not required but attendees seeking reservations at Breaks Interstate Park may call The Breaks reservation desk directly at (276) 865-4413 for a 10% discount on lodge rooms, cabins or camping.

“The older folks who can tell the stories are dying off,” according to Stephen Conley. “Their children and grandchildren realize this and are interested in family lore. With this precious resource disappearing, it’s so important to get the oral history down.”

Last year’s storytelling convention raised nearly $3,000 for the Letcher County Food Pantry of Whitesburg, Ky.

For more information, contact Dr. Stephen Conley at DevilJohnDays@Yahoo.com or (804) 687-4447. Contributions to support the “Tales of the Cumberlands” event may be sent to Conley at 2207 Buckingham Ave., Henrico, VA 23228.

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