Whitewater Storytelling Festival

Whitewater Storytelling Festival


Grab your imagination and join us in Whitewater, WI for our magical Whitewater Storytelling Festival!
Nestled in the beautiful and inspiring Kettle Moraine State Forest, Whitewater is home to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Young Auditorium, and a robust artist community supported by the Whitewater Arts Alliance. The community enjoys a rich history in educating future teachers and entertaining the region with world-class theater productions, innovative art exhibits, and a variety of musical offerings by university students, faculty, and locals alike.
We could not think of a better place to introduce the magic of storytelling and our annual Whitewater Storytelling Festival! The festival weekend will be filled with fun ways to engage with local and regionally known storytellers, art galleries, and creativity-inspiring activities. Stop for the day or stay for the weekend to take in the beauty of our Ice Age Trail community!

2022 Festival Schedule Below – Scroll Down!

2021 Event Photos

Whitewater Storytelling Festival
Inaugural Event Commemorative Poster

The poster below was designed last year by students from Studio 84 a nonprofit art studio and gallery that specializes in the creative development of people with disabilities. We were honored to have their students create this poster for the first year of our event! We still have a limited number of these posters and they will be on sale during this year’s festival.

Commemorative Poster

The 2nd Annual Whitewater Storytelling Festival is happening September 23rd – 25th, 2022

Follow us on the Facebook event page for the most up to date announcements and details. See you this fall!

2022 Featured Performances, Workshops & Activities

Workshops & Productions

Introduction to Telling Family Stories w/Jim May
Friday, 9/23 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
@ Jessica’s Restaurant Banquet Room

Virtually every family has a treasure of stories unique to the experience of self and loved ones. This workshop will give examples of family stories, memory prompts, and opportunities to share anecdotes and family memories. Join renowned storyteller, Jim May, as he shares his wisdom and expertise with new and seasoned storytellers!

**This workshop requires registration as space is limited**

Storytelling through Knitting Workshop-CXL’D
Offered by the Whitewater Arts Alliance
Saturday, 9/24 9 am – 12 noon @ the Cultural Arts Center

Come join Jen Webber in a discussion of how hand-knit pattern designs can tell a story while you start on a pair of fingerless gloves, designed specifically for this workshop! Jen has been knitting since before the turn of the century, and altered patterns to suit her whims for almost as long. She is currently the manager of The Quarter Stitch yarn and needlepoint boutique in New Orleans, LA.

Due to a lack of registrations, this workshop had to be cancelled. For questions about other workshops offered by the Whitewater Arts Alliance please contact waaworkshops@gmail.com

“Guess How Much I Love You”
Saturday, September 24th @ 9:30 – 10:30 am, Cravath Lakefront Community Building

This free workshop for children and families supported and sponsored by the Whitewater Arts Alliance is a Celebration of Music, Movement, Children’s Stories, and Family Love. Caregivers and young children gather around the music circle to playfully experience the “Five Love Languages of Children” by author Gary Chapman, through illustrated children’s literature, imaginative music making, instrument play, movement, and dance.

9:30-9:45 am – Musical Instrument Petting Zoo where children explore an array of world instruments
9:45-10:30 am – “Guess How Much I Love You” Music, Movement, and Singable Stories

Author Visit – Steve Rhinelander, author of Poutine and Gin
September 24th @ 5:00 pm, The Book Teller – 171 W Main St.

Meet author Stever Rhinelander as he reads from his new book, Poutine and Gin. Set in an alternate history in which Wisconsin is part of an independent republic of Quebec. Poutine and Gin centers around a hard-boiled detective who, while investigating a string of art thefts soon finds himself embroiled in a complex plot of international intrigue and murder.

UW-Whitewater Music Mosaics: Faculty Showcase
September 24th @ 7:30 pm, Light Recital Hall

This year the Music Mosaics season kicks off with a recital showcasing the entire Department of Music performance faculty! Piano, voice, strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, and jazz. You will be amazed at the level of playing and the variety of musical styles and approaches!
Tickets can be purchased at tickets.uww.edu beginning in August

Click the map image below to be taken to the Google Map of the event.

Storyteller Schedule

Friday, 9/23

Sip & Tell – Jessica’s Restaurant Banquet Room
This will be a ticketed event
Purchase tickets HERE
7-7:30 pm        Chad Johnstone
7:30-8 pm        Jim May
8-8:30 pm        Sarah Beth Nelson
8:30-9 pm       August Derleth Society
Daniel Graupner &
                         David Schwitzer

Saturday, 9/24

All Ages Sets –Cravath Lakefront Park Amphitheater
10-10:45 am         Jim May
11-11:45 am          Sarah Beth Nelson
12-12:45 pm         Coral Conant Gilles
1-1:45 pm              Justina Vickerman
2-2:45 pm             Elizabeth Matson
3-3:45 pm             August Derleth Society
                              w/ Daniel Graupner &
                              David Schwitzer
4-4:45 pm             Doug Way
5-5:45 pm             Jim May


Spooky Stories & Music-Cravath Lakefront Park & Amphitheater
6:30-7:00 pm       Coral Conant Gilles
7:00-7:30 pm       Musical stories
7:30-8:00 pm       Chad Johnstone
8:00-8:30 pm      Musical stories
8:30-9:00 pm      Doug Way

Other Fun Happenings

Open Mic Night

Friday, 9/23 @ 6 pm
The Book Teller in downtown Whitewater

Artisan Market

Saturday, 9/24 – 10 am to 2 pm
Cravath Lakefront Park

Cars & Coffee . . . and Tales

Sunday, 9/25 – 9 am to 12 noon
Lake Home Info grounds at – W7644 Kettle Moraine Dr., Whitewater
Join this FREE family-friendly car show event on the last day of the Whitewater Storytelling Festival! All makes and models are welcome. Enjoy coffee by Nordskov Coffee and treats from local vendors. Bring your car to show or simply stop by to see all of the great cars and hear their stories! There will be an Open Mic for car owners to tell stories about their cars and travels!

Story Stroll
Available all weekend

Read a children’s story while strolling with your family through Whitewater. The book will begin in Cravath Lakefront Park and meander through our quaint downtown and along Main Street.

**Story Stroll is sponsored by the Irvin L Young Library

Children’s Activities

Creativity & Story Zone

Reading Corner open 11 am – 4 p
Children’s Storytelling Sets
10:30 am-11 am        Coral Conant Gilles
11:30 am-12noon      Karen Wendt
12:30 pm-1 pm          Angie Alesci
2:30 pm-3 pm           Justina Vickerman


Creative Activities

11 am-12 pm         Ice Age Trail Alliance Craft

1 pm- 2:30 pm     Face Painting

3 pm-4 pm            Whitewater Parks & Rec Craft

The Creativity Zone is open 11 am – 4 pm
Activities and crafts available during the festival are sponsored by
  • Whitewater Parks & Recreation Department
  • Ice Age Trail Alliance of Walworth/Jefferson Counties

Special visit by Monty the Mammoth with the Ice Age Trail Alliance

Stories in Art

Local Art Exhibits

Whitewater Cultural Arts Center

Gallery open Thurs.-Sun. 1 pm – 5 pm

Elmwood Warren Bartlett Woodcuts will be on display in the gallery at the Whitewater Cultural Arts Center. Elmwood Warren Bartlett was a self-taught wood engraving artist who worked as an illustrator in Milwaukee and for the Chicago Tribune. Many of his pieces can now be found in several galleries throughout the United States including the Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Milwaukee Public Library, the West Bend Art Museum, and the corporate collection of the West Bend Mutual Insurance Company. This exhibition will showcase his crafted wood block engravings/prints from the 1930s to the 1950s of which most are landscapes. 

Roberta’s Art Gallery

Roberta’s Art Gallery on the UWW campus serves to inspire individuals to explore their creativity and share their stories. It collaborates with campus departments, student organizations, and community groups in coordinating and sponsoring exhibits throughout the year.

Exhibit: Hold Together
Artist – Jennifer Bastian

Crossman Gallery

Greenhill Center of the Arts @ UW-Whitewater

The Crossman Gallery serves the Department of Art and Design, the university, and the community by providing a forum for the exhibition of artworks and related educational activities. By facilitating the exhibition of distinctive works of art, the gallery offers students, faculty, and visitors an opportunity to enjoy and study a variety of art expressions.

Exhibit: Art & Design Mentor/Mentee

Studio 84

Studio 84 is a nonprofit art studio, gallery, and gift store that specializes in the creative development of people with disabilities. They are located in Downtown Whitewater and are currently not open on the weekends, but visit them during the week sometime to check out their student work!

2022 Featured Storytellers

Elizabeth Matson

Elizabeth Matson grew up in her mother’s Children’s Theatre Company and has been spinning tales since she was five. She has collected and shared stories as a folklorist, librarian, and performer. Folk and fairy tales are her bread and butter but they are leavened with family tales and an added sprinkle of the personal. She performs and teaches storytelling for all ages. For the last five years, Elizabeth has coached the teen storytelling troupe at the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Sarah Beth Nelson

Sarah Beth Nelson directs the Library Media program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In addition to researching oral information, she studies the American reality (true, personal, edgy) storytelling movement. Sarah Beth has performed in the Classic City, Atlanta, Greensboro, and Cincy fringes; and in the Peach State, Joyful Jewel, and Stone Soup festivals. She has served on the boards of Southern Order of Storytellers (a Georgia guild), and the National Storytelling Network.

Chad Johnstone

Since 1981, Chad Johnstone has learned and shared stories in the oral tradition; from folklore to pub lore, and those he authored himself. He’s had the opportunity to share these stories in schools, libraries, taverns, senior living centers, and museums. Chad’s journeys took him to Old World Wisconsin for the annual “Legends and Lore” event. 

In Chad’s words, “Everyone is a storyteller. When you share your thoughts with others, that’s storytelling. However, public storytelling can be petrifying. The key is to listen to others’ stories first so they’ll be receptive to yours. But above all … be brave enough to share!”

Angie Alesci

Angie Alesci is a trainer, educator, storyteller, and chaplain.  She has worked in youth ministry in addition to teaching communication and “coping with grief” classes for UW-Whitewater, as well as for local churches.  Angie has facilitated many art workshops for participants of all ages. She has a large collection of children’s literature and enjoys sharing stories with young nieces, nephews, and neighbors. Currently, Angie works for Aurora at Home Hospice in southeastern Wisconsin tending to patients and their families.  She has used this time during COVID-19 to build, reflect and help others create their Joy Toolkits

Jim May

Jim May is an Emmy award-winning storyteller, teacher, and author of the critically acclaimed “Farm On Nippersink Creek” and a children’s picture book, “The Boo Baby Meets The Ghost of Mable’s Gable”. A professional storyteller for over twenty-five years,  Jim May’s stories have taken him across the United States and Europe. He has told at schools, corporations, professional groups, and festivals across the land. Chicagoans know him from his appearances on WGN’s Roy Leonard Show and from the Studs Terkel radio show on WFMT-FM. He received a 1989 Chicago Emmy award for a WTTW-Channel 11 production of his original story, “A Bell For Shorty.” As an Emmy award-winning storyteller and author, Jim seeks to reestablish live storytelling as an art form, ideal not only for entertainment and education but also for the grounding and healing that is needed in complex, modern times.

Doug Way

Even when he was very young, Doug knew he wanted to experience people and places – to hear their music and their stories.  He has been on a lifelong journey to do just that. At the age of 19, he left his home near Fort Worth, Texas, setting out for New Orleans where he soaked up the culture and music of The Big Easy.  Then in Paris, to live on a houseboat in the City of Lights where he sought out the sounds and stories of others.  The influence of New Orleans and Paris were then integrated into the tales and influences of San Antonio where he performed regularly until he met his wife, an Army Officer, and took a hiatus in order to support her career and raise their son, cutting back on his life in entertainment.  Today his wife is retired and their son is in college – meaning this troubadour, this collector of peoples’ stories, this poet and songwriter is ready to return to the stage.  

Karen Wendt

Karen Wendt is a Storyteller from Columbus, Wisconsin. Her repertoire features folktales, fables, and fun stories, frequently inspired by her love of nature and her outdoor adventures. Adults especially enjoy her heartfelt “home-grown” tales of her life in Wisconsin. Children stopping at Wendt’s “Painted Faces” booth will delight in choosing a colorful, detailed, unique cheek art design to enjoy for the day. Karen is a visual and performance artist you won’t want to miss!

Tim Fox

Tim Fox is a Wisconsin author with two series of engaging tween novels that are enjoyed by both kids and adults. Tim was a teacher for 17 years and now he splits his time between personal fitness training, writing, spending time with family, and exploring the wonders of Wisconsin’s landscape looking for inspiration. Tim offers interactive school programming and will be visiting one of the elementary schools in Whitewater to share his tales with the children.

Coral Conant Gilles

As a Storytelling Naturalist, Coral lives in what is now known as Madison, WI on land that was taken from the Ho-Chunk people. She recognizes the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Myaamia, Ho-Chunk, Sauk and Meskwaki, Peoria, and Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) people who loved and tended the land she now loves and tends. Coral became a storyteller accidentally while teaching environmental education in the Pacific Northwest. She is truly at home in wild places and uses her work to connect others to those places. Coral’s programs inspire curiosity, empathy, and connection with ourselves, each other, and nature. Coral primarily tells folk and fairy tales, with the occasional personal story.

Justina Vickerman

Justina joins us for a second year as one of our amazing tellers. She is a UW-Whitewater alum where she majored in theater and minored in history. Justina is a seasoned actor but is best known for her work behind the scenes in the world of theater. She worked with The Children’s Theater of Madison for 10 years which gives her a wealth of content to draw from. She has tales of the behind-the-scenes chaos of theater life, working with animals, and navigating the ups and downs of the unexpected thrills of stage life. She comes from a very creative family and she draws from her family experiences to create her personal tales and stories. She enjoys sharing with others the joys of family life and her travels as a military kid. She and her family tales will certainly entertain!

Dan Graupner

Daniel Graupner is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Stella Adler Studio, NYU. He received a qualification in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction from The Center for Mindfulness,  University of Massachusetts Medical School, Division for Preventative and Behavior Medicine. He is currently at Brown University’s Center for Mindfulness and The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Harvard Medical School. This is his second term as President of the August Derleth Society. 

Noelle Larson

Noelle Larson is a Board Certified Music Therapist, a graduate of Whitewater High School and Berklee College of Music, and the owner of Circle of Song Music Therapy, LLC. Noelle has a passion for helping clients and group members to “Connect, Thrive, and Come Alive Through Music”, strengthen family relationships, learn adaptive coping strategies, and experience wonder and joy through the delight of participating in live music making. Whether she is serving young children or senior citizens, individuals in hospice care or children and adults with special needs, Noelle feels honored to help each client work toward their goals and find meaningful connections through music. Noelle is offering a wonderful children’s workshop during the festival that will engage children and their families in a celebration of family love through children’s stories, music, and movement.