Scary stories will highlight Halloween season at Fort Watauga

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, October 19, 2023

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​​Strange things happen around All Hallows Eve, especially at an old fort by the river. But don’t be afraid, Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals isn’t haunted… or is it? Bring a chair, sit a spell, and enjoy an evening of stories, songs, and tales that are sure to send a shiver down your spine and tickle your funny bone. 

Thursday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m., the park will come alive with tales of haunts and happenings of days gone by. An annual event not to be missed, Scary Stories will be presented inside the looming palisade walls of Fort Watauga providing a unique atmosphere for an evening of spooky tales geared toward the entire family.    

This year’s storytelling event will feature five exceptional storytellers to the stage: Dr. C. Keith Young, Catherine Yael Serota, Wallace Shealy, and the Front Porch Storytellers – Mary Jane Kennedy and Chad Bogart. Each of these talented tellers is sure to raise goosebumps on your skin and bring a smile to your face!

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Dr. C. Keith Young, Raconteur, has charmed audiences of all ages for more than three decades (since graduating from the ETSU Reading and Story Arts program). Dr. Young has been a featured storyteller and emcee at festival events such as Jonesborough Days, the Virginia Highlands Festival, the Erwin Strawberry Festival, the Stone Soup Festival in Woodruff, South Carolina, Roan Mountain State Park at Miller Homestead Days, Elizabethton’s Covered Bridge Festival, and many, many more. He is a favorite among programs that enjoy energetic, rib-tickling, family-friendly songs and tales.

Catherine Yael Serota is Southern-Appalachian born, from Asheville NC. Her career in human services lasted 42 years and took her from Greensboro NC across the state to Johnson City, TN. She developed an interest in storytelling five years ago as a result of a lifetime of reading, a love of articulation and history, and now has time to pursue storytelling in retirement. Catherine is a board member of the Asheville Storytelling Circle, the North Carolina Storytelling Guild, and an alumna of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild.

Wallace Shealy, from Flag Pond, has the distinction of being named the 2010 Bold Faced Liar Champion by the Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast. Wallace is active with the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild and has been involved with the National Storytelling Festival for more than 30 years. Whether he’s recalling a tale from his childhood, telling a story based on the Good Book or spinning a yarn you will be delighted listening to him stretch the truth all out of proportion.

Mary Jane Kennedy spent 30 years teaching in Orlando.  She has a background in music, voice-over, historical research, and storytelling.  She is the co-founder of The Homespun Storytellers and The Overmountain Singers. Also, as a co-founder of The Front Porch Storytellers, she has presented storytelling and music programs at many schools, civic functions, senior homes, and organizations throughout the Appalachian Highlands for nearly twenty years along with the popular Historic Ghost Walks of Elizabethton.

Chad Bogart descends from a long line of Appalachian storytellers. His telling is enhanced by a background in music and historical interpretation. He has been featured as a historic interpreter and character demonstrator at over fifty historic sites across the eastern US.

 Locally, Chad has been a featured storyteller at the Mountain Makins Festival in Morristown, The Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton, and the campfire series at both Roan Mountain State Park and Rock Creek Park in Erwin. He is also a co-founder of the Front Porch Storytellers. His interest in scary stories stemmed from ghost tales told by his grandmother and are a favorite among his listeners.

The program will be presented inside Fort Watauga, so be sure to bring your own seat. Also, make sure to dress warmly as the nighttime air along the Watauga River can be chilly and damp. This event is free of charge and is sure to be an exciting evening with family and friends! In the event of extremely inclement winter weather, contact the park about program cancellations and park office closings.