UofL and the International Order of E.A.R.S. will revive the Corn Island Storytelling Festival Friday, Oct. 12, in the Humanities Quadrangle.
Several of the region’s top storytellers — including Roberta Simpson Brown, an internationally renowned ghost storyteller and writer; Nana Yaa Asantewaa, a UofL alumna; and Nefertiti Burton, associate dean, College of Arts and Sciences — will share ghost tales.
The Corn Island Storytelling Festival, named after Louisville’s first settlement, was a nationally known autumn fixture in Louisville. For three decades before ending its run in 2007, it drew thousands of fans. Its ghost story nights were particularly popular, with people filling Long Run Cemetery in eastern Jefferson County and other locations for sometimes scary, often funny tales from the grave.
“Corn Island was such an important part of this community for decades,” said John Drees, one of the campus event organizers. “Storytelling and oral history are so important to our academic tradition that this seemed a perfect fit for the university. It also complements our Great Places to Work Initiative and our ongoing effort to attract more visitors to campus.”
The festival is free and designed to appeal to all ages. The Student Activities Board will give children an opportunity to paint pumpkins and decorate tombstones beginning at 6 p.m. About 90 minutes of family friendly tales will start at 7 p.m.
“We recommend that families with small children come out early and enjoy the activities and the early stories,” Drees said. “They’ll want to leave at intermission, though. We expect the truly scary ghosts to come out at about 9 p.m.”
Patrons should bring lawn chairs or blankets, flashlights and their imaginations. Einstein Bros. Bagels and Sodexo will sell coffee, hot chocolate, cider and other drinks and treats on site.
Ekstrom Library will house an exhibit on the history of the Corn Island Storytelling Festival beginning Oct. 1. The exhibit, in the display cases on the first floor of the library’s west wing, will include posters and other materials.
A grant from Louisville Metro Government and additional support from UofL’s Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and International Affairs, University Libraries and Office of Communications and Marketing are funding the festival. Other sponsors include WFPK-FM, Kentucky Homefront and the UofL Student Activities Board.