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 Scheduled For September 23-25, 2022 Coming Soon!

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

Watercolor Workshop with Ron Stocke
Offered by the Whitewater Arts Alliance
9/23, 24 & 25 9 am – 4 pm @ the Cravath Lakefront Community Building

This is a three-day workshop with all information needed to learn the core concepts of painting on location. Ron is an award-winning watercolor artist who has been painting for well over 30 years. The workshop will be relaxed with a social atmosphere.

Tickets can be purchased through the WAA and must be purchased by August 23rd. For questions about the workshop please contact waaworkshops@gmail.com

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

More Announced soon!


Click the map image below to see the Google Map of the event.

Storyteller Schedule

Friday, 9/23

1 pm to 3 pm – Storytime with local schools
Cravath Lakefront Amphitheater

Stop by and join local school children as they enjoy a special storytime with some of our local tellers.

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

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              Kay Elmsley Weeden
2-2:45 pm             Elizabeth Matson
3-3:45 pm             August Derleth Society
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 Literary Happenings

Artisan Market

Saturday, 9/24 – 10 am to 2 pm
Cravath Lakefront Park
Open Mic Night @ The Book Teller
Friday and/or Saturday evenings, times TBD

Story Stroll

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 pm
Sponsored by Whitewater Leads
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           Kay Elmsley Weeden


Creative Activities

11 am-12 pm         Creativity Activity #1

1 pm- 2:30 pm     Face Painting

3 pm-4 pm            Creativity Activity #3

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.
Stop by to check out their student pieces and a special guest artist exhibit

2021 Featured Storytellers

Kay Weeden

Kay Elmsley Weeden is on a mission to share stories and anecdotes that touch our lives and spread joy and humor. For more than 25 years she has recounted tales of intrigue and compassion, spinning yarns that illuminate the humanity in all of us. Formerly a public school teacher, she discovered storytelling as a fun, captivating, and powerful teaching tool.

Kay draws inspiration for her stories from her eclectic life’s experiences as an immigrant and unsupervised youth, a wife and mother, a dedicated non-profit organizer, a reluctant Army National Guard Member, a striving writer, and a cancer story researcher.  Annually she travels to Honduras with a medical mission and extended storytelling project in the schools. She currently is working with Hospice patients on their life’s stories. 

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.

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.

Jim Winship

Jim Winship is a firm believer that stories enrich our lives in many ways, and his professional storytelling experience goes back several decades. He tells stories in libraries and at professional conferences, participates in Story Slams, and has been a performer in storytelling festivals in the Midwest.

Katy Daixon Wimer

Katy Daixon Wimer is a southern Wisconsin storyteller, soul dweller, poet, and photographer dedicated to reconnecting people to themselves and the natural world. Capturing who you are and telling your story while guiding you toward a deeper connection with yourself light Katy up. That’s where the magic happens. In her writing, she enjoys capturing the magic around us and the beauty of being human. Katy is a writer and healing artist who lives out by Whitewater Lake in a cozy home with her husband and two cats.

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.

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.

Justina Vickerman

Justina Vickerman is a natural storyteller. She grew up in a family that embraced all things creative. Her father was in the Navy so she spent a great deal of her childhood traveling and gathering experiences. She has a passion for genealogy and believes that each one of us, each of our families, has a story to tell. Her stories are generally about life events and her experiences working in Children’s Theater. She is an alumnus of the University of WI-Whitewater having majored in theatre and history, a practiced actor, and a member of the IATSE (Stagehands union). Her work backstage at the Children’s Theater of Madison has given her a wealth of tales of the behind-the-scenes chaos the audience doesn’t see in the world of theater.