The 242nd annual Big Fibbers Contest is history!

What a hoot we had listening to twelve great tall tellers at the 242nd annual Big Fibbers Contest! All twelve were entertaining and every one of them could have been chosen a winner, but the judges had to make their choices.

Congratulations to:
Bronze Medal Fibber Tim Rouse of Bristol, Tennessee. Here’s hoping he gets that speedometer fixed.

Tim Rouse


Our Silver Medal Fibber was Denise Mount of Lawrenceville, Georgia, who definitely has a Clue! about what makes a great Tall Tale.

Denise Mount


But the official 2018 Big Fibber is Melanie Knauff of Dahlonega, Georgia.

Melanie Knauff


Melanie’s adventure at the Ritz-Carlton in Beverly Hills will haunt our dreams for years to come.

Who Made the Cover?

The first proof is off the press: presenting the 28 page printed program for the Fourth Annual Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival, Who made the cover?

Bobby & Sherry Norfolk

• the stars of 34 school performances from Monday March 12 through Friday March 16.

• the stars of Opening Night, Friday March 16, 7 p.m.

• the leaders of the Saturday morning workshops, 9-11:30 a.m., March 17.

• the emcees of our children’s contest at 2 p.m. and our Big Fibbers Contest at at 8 p.m. on Saturday March 17.

• the stars of the two Sunday shows at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m on March 18.

Juliana Washington

the reigning YoungTales champion who will reprise her winning tale of 2017 while the judges consider her successor from among the 2018 contestants. Saturday March 17, 2 p.m.

Delmas Franklin , Helen Keefer,
Chetter Galloway, Kirsten Mitchell

The four tellers who will regale us with their personal stories in the session we call “Nothing But the Truth”, Saturday March 17, 5 p.m.

Walter Freeman

the reigning Big Fibber who will retell his championship tall tale during the 242nd annual Big Fibbers Contest, Saturday March 17, 8 p.m.

Natalie Jones

A previous Big Fibber herself and one of last year’s headliners will join Bobby and Sherry on stage for uplifting stories we’re calling Sacred Tellings at 9:30 a.m.on Sunday March 18.

Carol Cain

Our other 2017 headliner who shares a stage with Bobby and Sherry for the grand finale we are calling “One For the Road”.

Success stories!

Success Stories!

This is our fourth year of bringing storytelling into area elementary schools through the Debby Brown YoungTales Storytelling program. How have we done? Here are some testimonials!


“The [YoungTales] program is nothing short of amazing, and I’m not just referring to the incredibly talented performers who come to the school to tell their stories.… I appreciate the special opportunity it provides for students who would otherwise have hidden their talents.”

— Tiffany Abbott Fuller, Literacy Coach, West End Elementary, Rome City Schools


“My students have a difficult time with written expression. They have wonderful stories inside, but struggled to get them out. By learning how to be verbal storytellers, they became stronger storytellers as well as writers.”

— Katie Chappell, Fifth Grade Teacher, Anna K. Davie Elementary, Rome City Schools


“I have personally seen students grow from good storytellers to amazing storytellers in only a few weeks of instruction.”

— Jason Coffman, Fifth Grade Teacher, Armuchee Elementary, Floyd County Schools


“There are many storytelling festivals around this county. There are very few who take the time to nurture young listeners and tellers. I applaud the Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival for making a commitment to both the future of the art of storytelling and the future of those hundreds of children who have been exposed to this art…”

— Carol Cain, Featured Teller, 2017 Big Fibbers Festival


“I just wanted to tell you how wonderful the story telling club was that you conducted at MES last spring! My only regret was that I wish it could have spanned more weeks!

— Angie Yancey, Teacher of the Gifted, Model Elementary, Floyd County Schools


“I was able to participate in the Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival and observe the student experience of the YoungTales Storytelling Program. To see the [young tellers] in action and to see them excited and eloquent was amazing.”

— Kanute P. Rarey, Management Consultant/Storyteller, Hayesville, NC

Bil Lepp at Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival

“The YoungTales performance that I attended was spectacular. As a student, I was a very poor writer…my spelling and grammar were awful. Fortunately, I had teachers and folks in the community who gave me the chance to perform in storytelling settings, where my skills were better suited to thrive. The more ways we give kids to succeed, the better they will do in the world. YoungTales is a great venue for this.”

— Bil Lepp, Five-time winner of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest, nationally known storyteller, award-winning author, and Big Fibbers Featured Teller in 2015 and 2019


Debby Brown

This is a post I wrote on July 17, 2013 as we mourned Debby’s death and prepared to celebrate her life at a special program at the DeSoto Theater.


Debby Brown is very special to me.

She more than any other person I know has promoted the art of storytelling in our area during the last few years. And it was at her instigation that my own storytelling has moved outside my school building during the last several years. But for the “Big Fibber Contest” she nudged me to join I would not likely have gotten into the tall tales that have brought me such joy (and I HOPE some enjoyment to our audiences as well!).

And when she drug me to her Celtic/Cherokee Festival I had to go find some Scottish stories, and now “Donald the Seal Catcher” and “Assipattle” are two of my favorites — I’m seriously considering purchasing a kilt!

For her Old Ways festival I got to resurrect “Sody Saleratus” which I hadn’t told in ages but have had several opportunities to tell since. And I learned a Cherokee tale (“Possum’s Nekkid Tale”) for another of her Chieftains events.

It was at her events that I reconnected with fellow tellers like Christy Davis (my former elementary student and another storytelling promoter!) and Gary Greene, whose songs blow me away, and Bob Harris, Jane Cunningham, Mary Elena Kirk, and Barbara Reeves — and several new storytelling acquaintances as well.

And I loved Debby’s stories! Her version of “My Pet Catfish” is the best ever. I retold it to my fourth-graders the day after hearing her tell it — to their delight and mine.

We all feel her sudden loss deeply. She will always remain a part of this community though. Her two wonderful kids (Mollie and Quentin), her artwork, her stories, and the storytelling, interest in local history, community theatre that she boosted, and, I hope and believe, some of the events she started, will continue. When we observe those things we will remember the wonderful diminutive artistic photophobic interested-and-interesting ball-of-fire named Debby Brown.

I hope lots of folks will come for Debby’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Historic Desoto Theater on Friday evening at seven. There is no admission charge. There will be music, storytelling, and a little drama. Some wonderful examples of Debby Brown’s art will be sold in a live auction AND you can bid, in a “silent auction,” for some great items donated by Debby’s many friends for this fundraising event.

Entertainment (I’m told there may be some surprises as well!)
• Celtic Medley (Janet and Sam Baltzer and friends)
• Stories by the Seven Hills Tellers
• Gary Greene, songwriter and storyteller
Mary Rose Ortwein (“Ruby”!!)
• The cast of Rome Little Theatre’s production of The Three Little Pigs and the Trial of the Big Bad Wolf
• Me (Terrell Shaw) singing (with accompaniment by James Willis)
… and more!

Well, I want all my friends to know of this opportunity. I hope lots of you will come. I hope many of you will also help spread the word. And please forgive me if I’ve gone a little overboard. 😉

This event is a joint effort of many people from the Historic Desoto Theater Foundation, Rome Little Theater, the Seven Hills Tellers, and Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau. Thank you to everyone involved (especially Debby’s friend and mine, Mary Elena Rivera Kirk ) for everything done to put this entertaining evening together. What a great way to remember our dear friend, Debby Brown.

One Week and a Day Till Opening Night!

Here we are again, and like last year I am overwhelmed with all that must be done in seven days! Andy will be pulling up about this time next week and he and I will head out the next morning for three shows at Elm Street Elementary, another school in the afternoon, then Opening Night at the E.H. Young Theater out at Berry at 7 PM.

If you are on Facebook please go to our event page and let us know if you plan to be there.

Of course the main show will be Andy Offutt Irwin and his hilarious cast of characters led, no doubt, by Aunt Marguerite. In addition you’ll get the treat of hearing Tracy Walker’s hilarious tale that won the Big Fibbers contest last year AND sixth-grader Courtney Hutcherson will have you laughing out loud at her stinky egg adventure that won the 2015 YoungTales competition. As a final bonus, please come hear me reprise the story that won me the first of my two Big Fibbers awards.


I love teaching storytelling to kids.

I have had a wonderful few weeks working with children through the Debby Brown YoungTales program. This is a project of the Ridge & Valley Storytelling Guild and a part of our Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival. Two terrific storytelling teachers, Jane Cunningham and Mary Elena Kirk are working with me to reach about 150 students in six schools plus an “at large” group at the Rome/Floyd County Library.

The program makes use of Donald Davis’s ideas from his DVD Make It, Tell It, Write It. We have purchased copies of the DVD for each of the schools, the library, and the leaders involved so that this program can be used by others with other children.

During this week Jane, Mary Elena and I will choose the sixteen finalists to compete in the Second Annual Debby Brown YoungTales story competition that will take place on March 19 at 3 pm, during the Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival. Please come and support these children, and bring some kids with you on the 19th. You will be amazed at the stories these children will come up with.

In preparation, and as a way to promote the program I have visited several civic and church groups, and have three times now been accompanied by Courtney Hutcherson. Courtney is a very accomplished storyteller at the ripe age of eleven. She won our story competition last March and has registered to defend her title this time around. I look forward to hearing her new story!


Courtney Hutcherson
2015 YoungTales Champion

We need sponsors for this program! If your civic group or business would like to help give me a call. We welcome ads for our printed program as well. Just let me know. It is a great program.