St. Petersburg StoryFest 2016

A celebration of storytelling on World Storytelling Day

Date(s) & Times

March 20, 2016

2:00 PM





Red Circle Sponsors: Bill and Hazel Hough

St. Petersburg StoryFest

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The Studio@620 is excited to host St. Petersburg StoryFest 2016 in celebration of storytelling on World Storytelling Day.
That day marks the annual global celebration of the art of oral storytelling on the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, (autumnal equinox in the south). People in locations around the world tell stories of their culture , in their languages, and in as many places as possible, all on the same day. This years theme is, Strong Women.

The storytellers who will be presenting at the St. Pete StoryFest include regionally and nationally known tellers including Civil Rights witness Jim Gregory, ventriloquist Sandi Sylver, Lucky Cole, "the Storyteller of the Everglades," ghost story specialist Deborah Frethem, Syndicated Columnist Jim Kissane, Ross Tarr, "The Storyteller of Old Tampa Bay", Eileen Berger and Monica Cordrey.

About the Storytellers:



Jim Gregory won the top International Award for Adult Class Storytelling Albums with his 2015 two disc offering, The Hanging of Tom Brown. In this widely acclaimed album Jim recounts the days in the early 60s when he led a team of eight into the Race Wars that came to be known as the Civil Rights Movement. He brings to life the story of "Freedom Summer" in Mississippi and the 65 movement in Alabama ending in the Selma Montgomery March. He detailed the story of his friends, the lady he loved, their struggles,and their tragedies. Jim will revisit those days to tell us about a strong women who participated in that struggle.

Jim appears frequently in the Miami area, and is a favorite at the Florida Storytellers Festival in Mt. Dora, and given recent storytelling concerts in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Many professional storytellers across the U.S. refer to Jim as a, "national treasure." He dedicated 30 years to teaching history to Florida students, and received his Masters Degree from USF, and his BA in History education from Tennessee Wesleyan College and University of West Florida. He is member of the Florida Storytellers Assoc. and Masonic organizations.  



At the age of 55, Sandi Sylver discovered the wonderful world of Storytelling. Shortly thereafter, she had a dream one night in which ventriloquist Shari Lewis and her sock puppet, Lamb Chop, were frolicking about. With great curiosity and excitement, Sandi went to the library the next day. She checked out a teach-yourself-to-be-a-ventriloquist book, and practiced and practiced and practiced some more. VOILA! A new career was born! Today, Sandi Sylver is an Illinois Arts Council Artist, a Creative Arts Program Artist of Fairfax County, Virginia, and has been a Showcase Artist in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Texas, California, and most recently, in her new home state of Florida. She readily admits to be having the time of her life!

Presenting interactive performances for children and families, plus coffee house style concerts for grownups, Sandi Sylver, along with her ever-expanding family of fabric, soft-face ventriloquist puppets, a guitar, and a repertoire of folk, world, contemporary, and true-life stories, has performed in over 20 states across the country, at schools, preschools, libraries, festivals, museums, senior centers, birthday parties, and for all types of celebrations. On May 14th, for the second time, Sandi will be presenting a young children’s show at The David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.She says the highlight of her career, thus far, was performing at 70 elementary schools, driving over 11 thousand miles, and sleeping in 58 different hotel beds, throughout North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa, including 7 different First Nation reservation schools—all in just 8 weeks! What an adventure! Sandi will be repeating this tour this year, with the intention of keeping a better journal and taking more photographs this time around.




Lucky Cole, "the Storyteller of the Everglades," is known for his popular tales on You Tube, and enjoyed in person by myriads of visitors from around the world who seek out his Everglades domain.

The HUFFPOST Miami made a pilgrimage to his home and studio on Loop Road which is right off of State Road 41 (Tamiami Trail) and praised Lucky's, " . . . tales of local characters from days gone by – loggers, gangster Al Capone, and the late fiddler Ervin Rouse, who wrote the "Orange Blossom Special. " Perhaps an ever greater homage is one from well known Florida author, Tim Dorsey, who included him as a real life character in his popular book, Electric Barracuda.

Lucky Cole grew up in Miami Springs, Florida and entered the field of photography as a child model for his aunt's, Charmette Modeling Agency. He moved from model to Photographer, and made a career in GlamourousPhotography. Lucky and his wife Maureen are famous for their pictures of ladies posed “au natural” in the Florida Everglades.



Deborah Frethem is a storyteller, actress, and author. She moved to the Tampa Bay area a decade ago to do ghosts tours and ended up authoring three popular books about Tampa Bay ghosts. Deborah has been a storyteller at the Florida Storytelling Festival in Mt. Dora, repeatedly featured on Halloween with a one woman show at the historic Tampa Theatre, and makes frequent appearances in the Tampa Bay area. Part of the year, she tells tales in costume at a mid-western tourist attraction. Deborah is a proud graduate of St. Olaf College with a BA in Drama and History. She belongs to the Florida Storytelling Association, the Tampa Guild, and the Storytellers of Old Tampa Bay.  


Jim Kissane, spins tales of Irish-American family life, and recreates powerful stories of American people and industry that no other country in the world can match. Through his tales listeners relive the exciting American culture that flourished on innovation, technology advancements, and the ability to master change. He has appeared previously at storytelling events including the Tampa Bay events, Tampa Bay Tellabration, the St. Petersburg Sunshine Center Auditorium St. Patrick's Day Storytelling Concert, and the Annual Florida Storyfest in Mt. Dora, Florida.Jim was born into a large Irish-Catholic family just outside of Washington DC, in the shadow of the Bowie MD Racecourse. The men in the family, going back to 1928 were Ironworkers, and being Irish to boot, laid claim to some of the “tallest” tales imaginable. Four generations of his family erected steel mills, bomber plants, rocket bases, skyscrapers, massive bridges, tunnels and subways and all over America; and, as a child Jim grew up on the stories of people, places and amazing situations told by the elders of the family who were “giants” in the industry. However, Jim didn't go into the steel erection business, he chose instead to build a career enabling him to travel the world and specialize in ways to solve challenging problems that introduced him to unique and interesting places and characters.Jim Kissane is a popular Storyteller, Business Consultant, Public Speaker, Author, Syndicated Columnist, and lay minister. Jim is a Tampa Bay resident, and a member of the Florida Storytelling Assoc., the Tampa Guild, and the Storytellers of Old Tampa Bay.



Ross Tarr, The Storyteller of Old Tampa Bay, is also know to many as Santa Claus, as Roscoe the Leprechaun, and as Ulfson the Ancient Viking. He has been a storyteller and workshop leader at the Florida Storytelling Festival and conducted storytelling workshops for, Worder Than Thou Writer's Summer Camp at USF and Eckerd College and appears at community and retirement centers, college campuses, for home storytelling concerts and family events, pub bookings, and has delivered St. Patrick's Day concerts at the St. Petersburg Sunshine Center Auditorium, and opened the Annual Children's ClassicChristmas Film Festival at the historic Tampa Theatre for the last three years telling one of his original stories and leading songs. Ross is a Certified Facilitator, leading storytelling workshops for people with Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.
Before moving to downtown St. Pete, Ross lived and cruised on his sailboat for a number of years, claiming to have spent most of that time writing bad humorous poetry and prose, and playing a 1920 Wurlitzer Soprano Saxophone left over from his misspent youth as a professional musician. He received a BS in Healthcare Administration, C.S.U., and MS in Management, National College of Education in Evanston Ill. and a Cert. in Long Term Care Adm, George Washington U. and is a published author with an extensive background in healthcare finance and college teaching, He is Exec. Director of the St. Petersburg StoryFest,



Elieen Berger comes to storytelling from a background in improve acting and Toast Master's International. She served as a graduate Instructor at Keller University and received her MBA at USF. Eileen is a frequently featured public speaker on the topic of the impact of health challenges on patients, families, & employers, and is a resident artist at Art Studio By Design in McAllen Texas.


Monica Cordrey, new to event storytelling, is humorous, energetic and an award winning teller of Tall Tales in Toast Masters International Contests. She is a Tampa Bay entrepreneur immersed in the world of fiscal affairs.