Story-telling Freshens Awareness of Appalachian Culture

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Adam Booth sharing stories of Appalachia Tuesday in the Robert C. Byrd Center auditorium.

(The Picket)-The multiculturalism of Appalachia has often been overlooked, a storyteller said Monday as part of Appalachian Heritage Festival Week celebrations at Shepherd University.

“Many immigrants came to Appalachia: some by choice and others were forced to and pressed into slavery. Appalachia is a very special place,” Adam Booth, coordinator of the Speak Story Series, told the Picket at the Byrd Center auditorium.

Booth is a Shepherdstown resident and former Shepherd student. His stories from Appalachia event included three folk tales.

The first one was about a broom maker who would test his brooms by listening for the song of a bird aligning its tune as the straw brushed along the ground.

The second story detailed the life of a girl named Jessie whose main desire was to play with dolls. One day, around her birthday, Jessie spotted a doll she wanted while out shopping with her mom. It was a doll that smiled and held up two fingers to make the Peace gesture.

“But, Mom, it’s so peaceful,” Booth punned speaking in the voice of Jessie. The story continued with Jessie obtaining the doll; little did Jessie know, however, that the doll had a mind of its own.

The final story Booth presented was his own creation. It was a story about a man who was a gambler and eventually loses all his winnings in a bet. The man found himself trying to accomplish many tasks to fulfill the bet, which took him on an adventure that lead to marrying a princess.

Omar Williams, a student at Shepherd University pursuing a Region Bachelor’s Degree, was encouraged by one of his professors to attend the performance. Williams said that more people should have an idea of Appalachian history because of its firm association with the arts.

“People just think it’s back-country…people don’t realize the amount of influence that comes from Appalachia,” Williams said. Rather, he considered Appalachia to be “deeply rooted in its forms of music, culture, and ethnicities.”

During a question and answer session after Booth’s appearance, he was asked if he had ever taken dance because of his elaborate gestures.

“I haven’t studied dance or theater,” Booth said. “If I plant my feet, my body does the dancing.”

Shepherdstown residents Robert and Dana Mitchell said they have seen Booth perform before.

“Adam is very well-known,” Dana Mitchell said. “He’s been in story-telling competitions before and is the founder of the Speak series. He’s an amazing and gracious person.”

Acting provost Scott Beard also attended the story telling and noted the Booth simultaneously gives awareness to protect cultures and traditions.

“He was one of my favorite students,” Beard said. Beard has performed during the Appalachian Heritage Festival before and recalled his past work arranging music to go along with poetical works from the Writers-In-Residence participants.

There will be other opportunities to catch Booth and other story-tellers in action following the Appalachian Heritage Festival week. On Monday, Oct. 30, the Shepherdstown Community Club will be hosting a concert of scary stories.

Also, according to Steve Ayraud, a member of the advisory committee for the Speak Series, Booth with have another performance the second Tuesday of December in Reynolds Hall. All speak Series events are open to the public and free for Shepherd students.