Here are our contestants for the
March 17, 2017
Trinity United Methodist Church
Martha King Auditorium
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Keith Jones | Blue Ridge, GA
Keith Jones could have set a record for earliest college degree. Unfortunately, Mercer University doesn’t give credit for classes attended while your Mom’s expecting you. Keith was born in Macon while his parents were students there, and grew up in several communities across North Georgia, including Hartwell, Hiawassee, and Epworth near Blue Ridge.
Listening to stories by the fireside, at hog killings, syrup making, and in other everyday life situations., Keith built his repetoire, then honed his skills during four decades preaching in Baptist churches. In retirement he has launched into professional storytelling.
Watch out fibbers, Reverend Jones wants to grab the Whopper Hat and take it off to the mountains.
Caneta Gentry | Norris, TN
As President of the Cleveland Storytelling Guild in Cleveland, TN and a retired 5th grade teacher, you’d expect some great stories. Caneta Gentry’s favorite teachers were storytellers and grew up loving school! For 32 years that’s how she tried to teach. She wanted her students to see events, people, and happenings as they occurred and to create a love for the stories. Now, in retirement, Caneta’s getting to tell more than ever. She gets to share folktales, family tales, and people tales with children through adults. And now she will apply her skills to a fib. Can she take the Whopper Hat?
John Schultz | Rome, GA
Can John the Plantman bring the Whopper Hat back home to Rome? He’s going to try. After years of storytelling in print he is bringing his tales to the storytelling stage. He has documented his experience of living with rednecks in two books, “Requiem for a Redneck” and “Redemption for a Redneck.” These two books form the Redneck Trilogy. His third book, written after he became a cancer survivor is “Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.–Facing Cancer with Humor and Optimism.”
Dekie Hicks keeps him straight most of the time. “She is my lovely wife with whom I am well pleased,” says the twitterpated John. Speck, the coon dog, is rooting for John too.
Tom Lawrence | Blairsville, GA
Tom Lawrence is a proud father and storyteller from Blairsville, GA. He is trained in the Celtic Bardic arts, specializes in trickster tales, plays several instruments, persists in perpetuating the rumor that he can sing, and has been featured multiple times at the Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival. He also likes to throw heavy things for fun. But can he throw manure with the pros? The 241st annual Big Fibbers Contest will try his skills as he vies for the 2017 Big Fibber title.
He may have been born and raised on a farm in rural Ohio, but Kanute Rarey moved to the mountains as soon as he could. After a quarter of a century in the mountains of Alaska, North Carolina, and Alaska, storytelling is second nature to him. He says most of his stories are true… more or less. He has studied storytelling with Elizabeth Ellis and Bil Lepp. Folks have heard him tell at the Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival, the Moth StorySlam in Asheville, John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, and the Swapping Ground at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. And you can find him regaling local folk around Hayesville, North Carolina at the Clay and Cherokee County care centers, the Clay County School System. The guys at Pat’s Barber Shop will tell you Kanute is ready to compete in the Bigs. He is out to win the Whopper Hat.
Walter Freeman | Loganville, Ga.
This Georgia boy earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and spent a career as an executive in chemical company in Wilmington, Delaware. Despite falling “in with a bad crowd,” as he says, Georgia storytelling traditions were too ingrained to be completely eradicated by his corporate affiliations. Once, while Walter was being coached for an important presentation for the company’s board of directors, his boss exclaimed, “You’re a storyteller!” It was not a compliment.
Now, in retirement, Walter has returned to his native Georgia. Are his storytelling skills still sharp? Can he capture the Whopper Hat?
Leslie Shelley | Ball Ground, Ga.
Leslie Shelley grew up in the midst of a large rural family in the foothills of North Georgia. Life on the farm was filled with tale tales, tragic life stories, and friends and family made bigger, better, or worse by the stories and adventures that filled out days. She has a passion for a good tale, and loves the look of life in the eyes of the audience in the midst of her rollicking tales.
Ron Kemp | Roswell, Ga.
Ron Kemp specializes in original humorous stories from small town America. He also creates his own adaptations of traditional stories. He has been an active storyteller for over 20 years for churches and civic organizations as well as several storytelling festivals in the southeast, including the Peach State festival in Atlanta.
Denise Mount | Lawrenceville, Ga.
A member of the Southern Order of Storytellers, Denise Mount is co-founder along with her husband, Mike Mount, of Stories on the Square in Gwinnett County. She is the elder half of the Raconteuses storytelling duo with her daughter, Sarah Beth Nelson. She prefers personal stories, but also enjoys giving her own spin to an urban legend or two. Now she will try a great big whopper!
Frank Causey | Lawrenceville, Ga.
Whether its at the podium at Toastmasters or on stage at venues like Stories on the Square, Frank Causey entertains. And his tales are apt to be quite tall. How tall is his tale? He’s learned from the dean of American storytelling. Three times he has attended Donald Davis’s famous week-long storytelling workshop. Frank came in third in the 2015 Big Fibbers Contest. Can he move up to take the top prize this time around?