Whitewater Storytelling Festival

celebrate the magic of storytelling

Celebrate the magic of storytelling at this magical festival at Whitewater Arts Alliance’s Cultural Arts Center featuring stories through arts, crafts, tellers, & food!

Embark on a magical journey of words, wonder, and creation at the much-anticipated Whitewater Storytelling Festival. This enchanting event occurs May 3rd and 4th at the Whitewater Arts Alliance’s Cultural Arts Center where stories come alive and imaginations run wild.

The Whitewater Storytelling Festival promises entertainment for attendees of all ages, with talented storytellers and musicians for the young and young-at-heart. From children’s stories and interactive activities that will spark the creativity of the little ones, to all-ages storytelling sessions that will captivate audiences of every generation, this festival truly has something for everyone.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore a diverse art exhibit as well as vendor market showcasing unique products that carry their very own stories, adding a touch of narrative charm to your shopping experience.

Above all, the Whitewater Storytelling Festival is a celebration of the magic of storytelling. This event celebrates storytelling through arts, crafts, tellers, and food and how storytellers take us to worlds beyond our very own.

2023 Festival Sponsors – 2024 Sponsors Coming Soon!

Countdown to Festival








Event Details at a Glance

Date: May 3-4, 2024
Time: May 3: 6-10p & May 4: 9a-3p
Location: Cultural Arts Center – 402 W Main St. Whitewater, WI

May 3rd:
6-8p: Open Mic
8-10p: Live Music

May 4th:
9-11:15a: Children’s Activities & Stories
10a-2p: Vendor Market
11:30-2:45p: All Ages Storytelling & Activities
3-4p: Live Music
4-5p: Workshop with Whitewater Arts Alliance

The Day Of in 2023 – 2024 Schedule Coming Soon!

Children’s Stories

& Activities

9-9:45a – Music, Movement, & Instrument Petting Zoo with Circle of Song Music Therapy
– Storytelling by Coral Conant Gilles
10:30-11a – Pine cone bird feeder kids craft by Kim Adams
11-11:30a – Storytelling by Andreas Transo
11:30-12p – Kids activity & time with Monty the Mammoth by the Ice Age Trail Alliance
12-12:30p – Musical Stories with Nazario Chickpeazio **Featuring puppeteering by Eowyn
12:30-1p – UW-Whitewater’s Chancellor King

All Ages Storytelling
& Live Music

1-1:45p – Live music by Nazario Chickpeazio (genres range from Bluegrass, to Spanish guitar, & Tibetan Ceremonial music) **Featuring puppeteering by Eowyn
2-2:30p – Storytelling by Coral Conant Gilles
2:45-3:15p – Storytelling by Jitesh Jaggi
3:30-4p – Storytelling by Elizabeth Matson
4:15-4:45p – Storytelling by Sarah Beth Nelson
5p-5:45p – Live music with Cead Mile Failte (traditional Irish tunes & story songs)

Campfire Stories with S’mores

6-6:30p – Storytelling by WendtWorks: Stories N Flight!
6:30-7p – Storytelling by Doug Way
7-7:30p – Storytelling by Aria Wagner
7:30-8p – Storytelling by Chad Mitchell Johnstone

Artisan Market

10-2p – Artisan Market – Storytelling through art and food:

  • Vendor List Coming Soon!

Featured Storytellers

& Musicians from 2023

Karen Wendt

Karen Wendt (WendtWorks: Stories N Flight!) is a Storyteller from Columbus, Wisconsin. Her repertoire features interactive 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. Karen is a performance artist you won’t want to miss!

Jitesh Jaggi

Jitesh Jaggi is an immigrant dancer, poet, and storyteller from India, currently living in Chicago. He ended his career in Finance one day when he lost all his data that he forgot to save on an Excel sheet and realized that he just didn’t care. That tipping point led to him becoming a writer and he is currently working on a book of essays. A four-time The Moth StorySlam winner, he also produces shows for the NY-based science storytelling organization, The Story Collider and the Chicago-based Story Sessions. He regularly coaches clients in crafting their personal and business stories and over the last five years has taught storytelling workshops for the World Health Organization, the American Chemical Society, and the University of Chicago among several others. He was a keynote speaker at the 2022 international educator’s conference- NAFSA. His stories were recently played on the National Public Radio as part of The Moth Radio Hour. He loves writing bios because he can refer to himself in the third person. Jitesh will be the featured storyteller at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival in Fall 2023.

Coral Conant Gilles

Coral (she/her/hers), Storytelling Naturalist, became a storyteller accidentally while teaching environmental education in the Pacific Northwest. She now lives in Madison, WI – Ho-Chunk land known to the Ho-Chunk as Teejop (English pronunciation: day-jope). Coral tells folktales, original creations, and personal stories. She uses storytelling and hands-on nature activities to inspire curiosity, empathy, and connection with ourselves, each other, and the natural world. Coral believes this is at the heart of healing ourselves, our relationships, and our local and global communities of human and non-human beings.

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.

Andreas Transø

Andreas is a traveling educator, music maker, spoons playing-evangelist, and storyteller living now in Whitewater but hailing from the river bottoms and hills and hollers of the Boscobel, Wisconsin area. With a Danish immigrant father and an American “melting pot” mother, Andreas grew up experiencing and celebrating many different cultural traditions, leading to a love for traditional music and storytelling. From Hans Christian Andersen to stories of Ancient Ireland and Eastern Europe to Wisconsin history and his family’s legacy tales from his home in the Driftless Region, Andreas has told his gathered tales throughout Europe and North America at schools, festivals, libraries, and summer camps. He is a member of The Great Midwestern Educational Theater Company and is on staff at The Frogwarts School of Wizardry imagination theater summer camp, where he teaches spoons playing, social dance calling, instrument building, and magical word play. You can see Andreas regularly at various libraries and bookstores, folk festivals, and many an Irish pub throughout the Upper Midwest (including The Irish Cottage dinner-theater style performance venue in Galena, IL, where he is an in-house Seanchaí).

Aria Wagner

Aria Wagner started her storytelling career with T.H.E.M. (Teens Helping to Evolve the Magic of Storytelling), a storytelling troupe at Hedberg Public Library. She has since then honed her craft, and is looking to continue sharing her stories with the community, most of which are folktales and personal spins on fables and mythological stories.

Noelle Larson with Circle of Song Music Therapy

Noelle is a lifelong lover of horses, reading aloud, spending time in nature, and creating music with people of all ages and life stages. Noelle grew up in Whitewater Wisconsin, then earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from Berklee College of Music in Boston. After obtaining her board certification as a music therapist, Noelle served as a preschool music teacher at Park Street School and Dexter-Southfield Summer Camps in the Boston area before starting her private practice. Noelle feels honored to provide music therapy services to individual clients through the Children’s Long-Term Support Waiver Program as well as group music and movement programming for children and caregivers through local libraries and community organizations.

Elizabeth Matson

A storyteller since 1987 (though her mother claims she has been performing stories since she was five), Elizabeth Matson is a spinner of tales, weaving magic into her renditions of traditional tales and real life narratives for audiences of all ages. Elizabeth enjoys incorporating creative drama, yoga, and her love of language into her performances.

Cead Mile Failte

Cead Mile Failte performs traditional, acoustic Irish tunes and story songs. They perform at Irish pubs, wineries, and farmers markets throughout Jefferson County.

Chad Johnstone

Since 1981, Chad Johnstone has learned and shared stories in the oral tradition; from folk lore 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. According to Robert Parker, Assistant Director for the museum, “Chad Johnstone is an excellent storyteller … his performances were family friendly, creative, well-crafted and rehearsed, and he was one of the final storytellers each evening, helping to close out our event with a climactic bonfire story each night. Chad has an excellent sense of timing and drama, and can perform both comic and spooky stories. He is very comfortable engaging directly and enthusiastically with his audience. His performances were well received by his audiences of children and adults.” In the past, Chad has spent many an hour enjoying history and sharing his talents as a volunteer at Old World Wisconsin and as a board member for Old World Foundation. Along with his wife Jan, Chad makes it a priority to explore historical places and discover stories during their travels in the United States and Europe. Chad and Jan Johnstone are owners of Highlights Media, a video production company in Jefferson, Wisconsin. 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!”


Dr. Corey A. King

Dr. Corey A. King started as the 18th chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater on March 1st, 2023. A celebrated leader with three decades of higher education experience, King has held leadership roles in student affairs, student services, and enrollment management.

Before joining UW-Whitewater, King served as Vice Chancellor for Inclusivity and Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Prior, he was Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management at Florida Atlantic University and led the Council for Student Affairs of the State University System of Florida. King also held leadership positions at East Carolina University, Wheeling Jesuit University, and the University of Florida.

King earned a bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a master’s degree in higher education administration/student affairs from Florida State University. He earned a doctorate in educational administration and leadership from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Nazario Chickpeazio

Nazario Chickpeazio has a steadily growing reputation for his wide variety of original music, sometimes bright and cheerful, sometimes melodic and entrancing. His musical approach is to incorporate a multitude of styles into his sound, so no genre is off-limits. He plays many different instruments, mainly Oud, Lavta and Flute- but he is also skilled with the Sitar, Baroque Guitar and Afghan Rabab. His musical inspirations range all the way from Classic Rock and Bluegrass to Spanish guitar and Tibetan Ceremonial music. Nazario has been delighting audiences all across the United States for the past 30 years and has plans of touring Worldwide in the near future. His music has been featured in two of Tamarind Tribals Bellydance DVD’s and he has performed live at World Music Festivals, Renaissance Fairs, City Markets, Theatres, College Campuses, Restaurants and Weddings. He has shared the stage with many well- known talents; including Evan Christian (Flamenco Guitarist), Carlos Adames (Percussionist) and Daryal Kafkasso (Guitarist)

Doug Way

Doug Way is a troubadour – music and story telling combine to make you feel as if you are there. Born in Tyler, Texas; raised in Arlington, musically matured in San Antonio – this Texas can spin a tall tale with the best. After travelling with his family in support of his spouse’s Army career, he branched into storytelling while living in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Doug and his crew now reside in Madison, Wisconsin. He loves southern Wisconsin and is excited about another appearance at the Whitewater Storytelling Festival.

Kim Adams

Kim Adams considers herself to be a life-long learner. She has worked in higher education for 34 years, which currently includes a part-time role as the Community Engagement Specialist for the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Office.

During her full-time work at UW-Whitewater, Kim served as a charter member of the UW-Whitewater/Community Optimist Club, and as faculty advisor of the UW-Whitewater Student Optimist Club. She chaired the Optimist Trivia Night for seven consecutive years and helped to raise nearly $90,000, which included shipping an ambulance to Burkina Faso, Africa.

Kim has enjoyed bird watching as a favorite hobby for 17 years—taking photos of the feathered creatures in her backyard during all seasons. She has some favorite photos and stories that she is looking forward to sharing.

Some of Kim’s other interests include Wisconsin sports, waterskiing, gardening, singing in her church choir, gatherings with family and friends, and travel.

Kim is delighted to share her bird-watching experiences, as well as lead a hands-on activity for participants of all ages.

Stay the Night!

Baymont Inn & Suites

(262) 214-0226

Fairfield Inn & Suites

(262) 458-2065

Hamilton House B&B

(262) 473-1900

Victoria on Main B&B

(262) 473-8400

Super 8 Motel

(262) 214-0227