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by | May 2, 2022

Nationally known storyteller Fran Stallings, from Bartlesville, will be one of four storytellers sharing tales at a storytellers’ “concert” at Lendonwood Gardens on Saturday, May 14, starting at 2 p.m.  She will be joined by other storytellers Eldrena “Bluecorn” Douma of Texas, Valerie Kimble of Norman, and Chester Weems of Yukon, Oklahoma.  The event, which will be held in the garden’s Japanese Pavilion, is free and open to the public; donations are appreciated.  Lendonwood is located at 1308 Har-Ber Road in Grove.

Lendonwood Gardens will host a storytellers “concert” on Saturday, May 14, featuring four nationally recognized storytellers from the regional Territory Tellers organization.  The event, which starts at 2 p.m. in the garden’s Japanese Pavilion, will be free and open to the public.  Donations are always appreciated.

Organized by Chester Weems of Yukon, Oklahoma, the concert will feature four storytellers with diverse backgrounds and oral traditions.  In addition to serving as master of ceremonies, Weems himself will share some family stories, although he says, “My stories got a little better when I did not always let the truth get in the way!”

 Weems noted that nationally known storyteller Fran Stallings, of Bartlesville, will bring a unique set of stories for the Lendonwood event.  Stallings has a special collection of folktales from Japan, learned during residencies there and on American tours with traditional Japanese folk-teller Hiroko Fujita.  She grew up in a traditional storytelling family and has been a traveling storyteller since 1982. 

Eldrena “Bluecorn” Douma, from the Texas Panhandle area, will share tales from her youth in New Mexico and Arizona among her Pueblo tribes of the Laguna, Tewa and Hopi.  A former public-school teacher, Douma has been telling stories and attending storytelling festivals and conferences since 1992.

Rounding out the group will be Valerie Kimble, a retired children’s librarian from Norman.  She has been telling stories to audiences of all ages for more than 40 years.  At Lendonwood, she will be telling the “Peddler’s Dream,” an Irish version of the story called “Peddler of Swaffham.”

Weems said all the storytellers are looking forward to visiting the Grand Lake area and Lendonwood Gardens.  “When I visited the garden last year, I immediately saw it as a wonderful venue for telling stories,” he said.  “The open-air Japanese Pavilion, surrounded by beautiful plants and trees, just seemed the perfect spot for telling a few tales.”

He noted that while the event is “family-friendly, it will be geared primarily for older teens and adults.”

Weems serves as president of the Territory Tellers, an organization of professional and amateur storytellers in Oklahoma and surrounding region.  Organized in the early 1980s, the group offers opportunities to learn the art of storytelling as well as to host storytelling concerts and events.

Lendonwood Gardens is an eight-acre botanical garden located at 1308 Har-Ber Road in Grove.  Highlights of the garden include azaleas, rhododendrons and peonies – all currently in peak bloom-time.  Other colorful collections include dogwoods, Japanese maples, daylilies, camellias, viburnums and hostas.  The garden is open year-round from dawn to dusk.  The Welcome Center and Gift Shop are open seasonally Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.