stories about his family in western North Carolina. His characters are richly drawn, the stories are warm and usually hilarious.
Donald writes numerous books and records stories, but there is absolutely nothing like watching him in person. He lives the stories and the audiences love him. I have seen them pick up their traps and follow him from tent to tent.
One of the amazing things about these folks is their depth. Tellers are not allowed to repeat a story during a given festival, so they always bring a big selection since each is scheduled several times a day.
Just picture..a bare wooden stage in the front of a tent, a microphone and a stool. That's all. These people light that up.
The stories Bil spins are about his teen years with his friend Skeeter in Half Dollar, WV. I don't think there is a Half Dollar, but it sounds like a lot of little towns in the southern part of the state and what he claims they got into raises a lot of guilty memories in anybody who ever was a teenager with a buddy. The stuff is waaay out there and funny, Friend. He writes books and does recordings, too..but anybody who ever saw a 17 year old with a ball cap on the back of his head, hands in his hip pockets, one hip thrust to the side..knows where Bil Lepp is coming from. And you want to be right there with him.
This is Barbara McBride Smith, Oklahoman raised in Texas. A librarian in her other life, Barbara rocks audiences with stories about ranchers and, believe it or not, Greek Gods described in a western accent.
Wonderfully talented and warm, she's been a star at Jonesborough from the beginning. One of her favorite things is talking with fans between shows..and they flock to her.
She does records and has written books and there is a tent at Jonesborough that sells them.
That's just three. There are many, many more..and after you've heard them once or twice, they seem like family.
As I may have mentioned, it's a beautiful little town. Daniel Boone had a place near here when that street was just a stage coach road.
If you decide to join us this fall--and I hope you do--start hunting a hotel right now. You'll have no trouble getting tickets to a full weekend of shows--you register up near the library--but hotels are something else, as you can see by this sign posted on one of them downtown. I think people pass along hotel reservations to their heirs like others pass season football tickets.
You should bring a seat cushion with you, bottled water, and probably a light jacket, just in case. A heavier jacket in the trunk of your car is probably not a bad idea, either. But percentage-wise, we've usually found gorgeous autumn weather there.
I can also say that we have rarely, if ever, found a grouchy person in Jonesborough. They all come for just one thing..and it's not to watch TV.
There's an ice cream shop on the main street, places that cater box lunches and others that have full sit-down meals. There's a tent with everything from pizza to roast beef. But don't miss the hot-dog stand up the alley.
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It's just wonderful, and I wouldn't miss it for (almost) anything.