Hunter’s Moon presides over Spooky Stories at Sycamore Shoals

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By Larry N. Souders
Star Correspondent
On a cool, crisp fall evening, with the near-full Hunter’s Moon casting its glow, people gathered at Watauga Old Fields. Last Thursday evening, they moved within the protective confines of Fort Watauga, reminiscent of their ancestors. While settlers in the late 18th century sought refuge within the fort’s walls, those entering the recreated fort last Thursday came to listen to spine-tingling, eerie, and humorous tales passed down through generations.

Sycamore Shoals once again hosted its annual Scary Stories event, delivering an enchanting evening of storytelling.

Chad Bogart, a co-founder of the Front Porch Storytellers, promptly introduced the evening’s first performer, Catherine Yael Serota. She initiated the night with chilling stories, “The Tell-Tale Seaweed” and “The Wreath in the Graveyard.” Hailing from Asheville, N.C, Serota discovered her passion for storytelling five years ago and has since become a board member of the Asheville Storytelling Circle, North Carolina Storytelling Guild, and an alumna member of the Jonesborough Storytellers Guild.

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Following was Wallace Shealy, a storyteller well known to the audience. Shealy, from Flag Pond, delighted the crowd with his rendition of “The Magician’s Wife” and “The Boys in the Graveyard.” A champion of the 2010 Bold Faced Liar competition at the Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast, Shealy has been involved with the National Storytelling Festival for over 30 years.

The evening’s MC, Chad Bogart, took the microphone next and delivered a humorous account of “Grandpa Sees the Devil” and continued with the comically eerie tale of “The Mischievous Girl and the Hideous Creature.” In addition to his master of ceremonies duties, Bogart comes from a family of storytellers and is a character demonstrator and historical interpreter who has appeared at over 50 historic sites across the East Coast.

Another member of the Front Porch Storytellers, Mary Jane Kennedy, shared a pair of her favorite stories, “The Granny Curse” and “Licorice Gum,” both engrossing and spine-chilling. Kennedy’s background in teaching, music, storytelling, and historical research led her to co-found several storytelling groups.

The evening’s final act was the incredible Keith Young, who closed the night with captivating renditions of “The Big Bad Wolf Goes Trick-or-Treating” and “The Big Blue Tree.” A graduate of the East Tennessee State University storytelling program, Young has entertained audiences for over 30 years in the area.
As the event concluded, the audience slowly departed from the fort, as if slightly apprehensive about what awaited them just outside the gate.