ELLWOOD CITY ‒ The 21st annual free, family-friendly storytelling festival, Happily Ever After, is Saturday.
Nancy Wallace, youth services coordinator for the Ellwood City Area Library, said the festival’s title, Happily Ever After, is in honor of Bill Pate. who is retiring.
“Bill has been an artist, assistant and friend since the festival began. He will be missed,” Wallace said.
The fun day includes free balloon art, face painting and horse-drawn wagon rides. The Chief’s Pretzels and Henry’s Tasty Treats Ice Cream Truck will be set up for attendees to purchase food.
The entertainment never ends; as each storyteller leaves the stage, musicians Sharon and Curt Savage entertain with upbeat songs and music.
At 4 p.m., Regina Rees, teacher, literacy specialist and storyteller, returns to the festival. Rees, professor emeritus at Youngstown University, has spoken at workshops in the United States and Canada. She is active in the Historical Society of Poland and the Community Theatre.
“Her experiences flow into her superb storyteller,” Wallace said.
At 4:45 p.m., Dr. Sparks, Karl JP Smith’s storytelling alter ego, makes his first appearance at the festival. Described as Mr. Rogers meets Bill Nye, Dr. Sparks brings a different perspective to storytelling by combining it with science and engaging kids in science. He is well known in the Pittsburgh area where he performs at UPMC Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Museum, libraries and schools. With a doctorate in biophysics, he was a software developer for Amazon and helped design Alexa.
At 5:30 p.m., Michael Perry, teacher by training and performer at heart, returns to the festival. For more than 25 years, Perry’s extensive storytelling experience includes the Pittsburgh Storytelling Festival, Hagerstown’s “Stories in the Round” and the annual Pittsburgh Tellabration. He also tells his stories at libraries, festivals, schools and corporate events. Her busy schedule includes teaching the art of storytelling.
At 6:15 p.m., Tim Hartman returns to the festival stage. He prefers the intimacy of storytelling, but has appeared in over 300 plays and musicals and a number of Broadway shows and films, including a Tony Award nomination for his role in ‘Finian’s Rainbow’. . Hartman is also an award-winning political cartoonist and illustrator.
At 7 p.m., Bill Pate, singer, songwriter and musician, combines his talents and mixes music and storytelling in an innovative way that entertains people of all ages.
Pate is making his final appearance at the festival and has planned a musical farewell to the event by joining some former band members and his wife, Maggie, making it a memorable moment.
“Bill is our soundman and has also been entertaining us with his music and stories for 19 years. Our festival will be his last appearance. It will be great I’m sure, but it won’t make up for losing Bill when the festival next year will unfold. So sit back and listen because you won’t hear that sweet voice echoing through the twilight park again,” Wallace said.
Hosted by the Ellwood City Area Library and Ellwood City Community Enrichment, the festival is a celebration of stories for all ages. It is sponsored by WesBanco, The Hoyt Foundation and Caroline Knox Memorial Fund.
What: Storytelling Festival
Where: Ewing Park
When: 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday
4-4:30 p.m. Dr. Regina Rees
4:45 – 5:15 p.m. Dr. Sparks
5:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Mike Perry
6:15 – 6:45 p.m. Tim Hartman
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. Bill Pate