2021 Flatwater Tales

JUNE 5, 2021

The Saturday, June 5, 2021 Flatwater Tales Virtual Storytelling Festival features world renowned storytellers Bil Lepp, Kim Weitkamp and Andy Offutt Irwin. Due to Covid-19 concerns, this year’s event will be online in 2021 and is being professionally produced by veteran virtual technical artists Six Feet Apart Productions.

The festival will offer an evening performance recorded in front of a live audience, three live online interactive workshops, and a live online after-party. This annual event is led by volunteers from the three Rotary Clubs in Oak Ridge.

June 5 Schedule of Events (Eastern Time)
Live, 1 hour interactive virtual workshops on Zoom:
        11:00 AM Bil Lepp, “Chaos Doesn’t Happen on Its Own?”
        1:30 PM Kim Weitkamp, “Tongue and Pen”
        3:00 PM Andy Offutt Irwin, “Laughing Makes You Smarter”
Evening Performance All 3 Tellers
(taped before a live audience exclusively for Flatwater Tales)
        8:00 PM
Live After-Party
on Zoom w/All 3 Tellers
        ~9:45 PM

Buy your Flatwater Tales tickets online at Eventbrite, or at the Ferrell Shop, 232 Jackson Square in Oak Ridge.

Our featured storytellers are three acclaimed performers: Andy Offutt Irwin, Bil Lepp, and Kim Weitkamp, known to audiences nationwide for their wit, wisdom and abilities to make audiences laugh, cry and reminisce. These three storytellers have achieved national recognition and appear regularly at festivals, including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

This year the Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival presents the art and magic of live storytelling with a virtual performance at 8:00 p.m. The three tellers will record a live show that will be performed before a small audience exclusively for Flatwater Tales. This performance includes an unrehearsed improv segment, hosted by emcee Paula Gordon Lepp, a new feature in the storytelling world. Their stories are already unpredictable, and the improv portion will build on their creativity and spontaneous story-making. A “blooper” roll and a live after-party will conclude the event.

Tickets for these virtual events are $15 for the evening performance. Workshops are $20 each or all three for $45. The after-party, a live real-time party with the tellers and emcee, is $10 with some giveaways for the audience. A whole day ticket, including all live interactive workshops, the evening performance recorded exclusively for FWT, and the live after-party, is $50.

Upon registration, participants will receive an email confirmation of their purchase. An email link to their events will arrive before the festival. In the event of registration difficulty, email flatwatertales@gmail.com or call 865-275-5270. After June 5, ticket holders will receive an email providing online access to their sessions for 2 weeks.

“The Festival’s goals are to help bring our community together, introduce people to storytelling and Oak Ridge, support local economic activity, and celebrate and support the clubs’ community projects,” said Emily Jernigan, Flatwater Tales chair and former Breakfast Rotary president. “We continue each year to grow Flatwater Tales with a wider audience and have expanded our storytelling efforts to include helping children find their voices using this age-old art form.”

Who are these internationally acclaimed storytellers? Let’s meet them:

 Bil Lepp, an acclaimed teller from Charleston, West Virginia, and 5-time winner of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, takes listeners on a winding, incredulous path before tying up all the loose ends in a neat, fantastical package. He tells humorous, imaginative tales, and says that while all the details may not be accurate, the feelings are always honest.

Bil’s live interactive workshop “Chaos Doesn’t Happen on Its Own?” will be at 11:00 a.m. If you have heard Bil’s stories you know that they twist and turn. If you haven’t heard Bil, well, they still do. Part of what he does is introduce an idea or concept early in the story, and then distract the audience from thinking of it again until it’s time for the big payoff at the end. Also, Bil strives for his stories to seem like he’s just coming up with them on the spot because he believes the best storytelling resembles a spontaneous conversation. How does he do it? How does he manage all the loose ends? Where do the ideas and loose ends come from in the first place? Sign up for the workshop and find out!

Kim Weitkamp has mastered the craft of blending humor and heartache, seriousness, and silliness, all linked together by music. She has a lengthy list of accomplishments and is most known for the characters, comedy, and songs she brings to her performances. In her work as a humorist, storyteller, singer, and songwriter, she has taken home an armload of awards and recognitions, including 7 award-winning audio collections. Kim says, “It’s all about the people. I love people. People are a walking, talking story. I am no different; I just get to share mine from stage.” Kim has also presented workshops around the country and online, including at colleges, conferences, and corporations, and now at Flatwater Tales.

Kim’s live interactive workshop “Tongue and Pen” will be at 1:30 p.m. “Tongue and Pen” is the perfect stepping stone no matter where you are on your creative journey. Your time with Kim will be part conversation, part lecture and part pen. Whether you are writing for on-stage performance or writing for the written page, you will learn to expand your thinking on how to approach getting your creative thoughts into something tangible. The hardest part of writing is doing it. You’ll learn how to tweak the muse, carve out time and space, and stop making excuses. Learn some fresh new ways to layout your story so that you can see it from different perspectives, giving you a deeper well from which to draw from as you write and edit. This workshop is not solely for spoken word performers and authors. It also benefits anyone engaged with the creative process.

Andy Offut Irwin’s silly putty voice, hilarious heart-filled stories, and amazing mouth noises (arguably, the greatest whistler in the world) make him a one-person-showman. Andy is equal parts mischievous schoolboy and the Marx Brothers, peppered with a touch of the Southern balladeer. One of the most sought after performing storytellers in the United States, Andy is especially known for relating the adventures of his eighty-five-year-old-widowed-newly-minted-physician-aunt, Marguerite Van Camp, a woman who avoids curmudgeonship by keeping her finger on the pulse of the changing world around her as she seeks to grow – even at her advanced age – in the New South. Along with being a vagabond storyteller, Andy works as an arts educator, keynote speaker, theatre director, songwriter, comedian, newspaper columnist, camp counselor, and Shakespearian actor.

Andy’s live interactive workshop, “Laughing Makes You Smarter” will be at 3:00 p.m. It includes humor, wit, and storytelling to help you develop cognitive connections leading to deep and enduring learning, and maybe even to serious business. The workshop will help you discover that there is a connection between emotion and the ability to remember and learn. What’s your earliest memory? There’s an emotional connection to it, isn’t there? Now, c’mon, admit it. We’ll explore why wit is important, even in serious stories.

‘If you love the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough,
you don’t want to miss the Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival in Oak Ridge.’


2021 Flatwater Tales Sponsors

The 3 Oak Ridge Rotary Clubs

WUOT Public Radio Logo   
WUOT Public Radio

Six Feet Apart Productions

2021 Flatwater Tales Donors

Martha and Dave Hobson
Amy and Nathan Fields
Jan and Stu Elston
Kay and Bill Whitman
Ben Redmond
Kelly Callison
Tammy Saylor
Helen Picou
Allison Wolf
Tim Lowry

History Flatwater Tales

2018, the Inaugural Flatwater Tales

On Sunday, June 3 the inaugural Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival, supported by a generous grant from the Oak Ridge Fund for Achieving Community Excellence (ORFace), presented the magic of live storytelling with two performances by three world-class tellers, Bil LeppTim Lowry, and Minton Sparks with guitarist John Jackson. Held at the Oak Ridge Playhouse in Historic Jackson Square, it was an Oak Ridge 75th Birthday event that offered different stories at each show. Performances were from 2 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Our tellers have achieved national and international recognition and appear regularly at festivals, including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. Their mesmerizing performances will bring people together to share the magic of this increasingly popular art form.

Kiran Singh Sirah, President of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN, honored us by making opening remarks to help inaugurate Flatwater Tales, Oak Ridge’s first storytelling festival.

The Storytelling was the final event of the Flatwater Festival weekend, an annual all-volunteer effort led by the three Oak Ridge Rotary Clubs to entertain and to raise funds for local grants and projects. It kicked off on Friday, June 1 with a 3 hour interactive writing workshop, “Create Your Own Story,” with Minton Sparks.

On Saturday, June 2, the Flatwater Festival continueed on the waterfront from noon to 9 PM. It featureed live music, beer, wine, food trucks, activities for kids, a team-building regatta, cardboard boat races, and much more.

Flatwater Tales Storytelling concluded the weekend with shows from 2 to 5 and 6:30 to 9:30 PM.

“If you can’t go to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough be sure to come to the Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival in Oak Ridge.”

2019, the 2nd Annual Flatwater Tales
Storytelling Festival!

The 2019 Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, washeld from May 31 through June 1.

On Saturday, June 1, the 2nd Annual Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival presented three performances by three world-class tellers: Carmen Agra DeedyBil Lepp, and Bobby Norfolk. The event moved to the Historic Grove Theatre in Grove Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The tellers shared different stories at each show. The performances were held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Family Show), from 2 to 5 p.m., and from 7 to 10 p.m.

Our tellers have achieved international recognition and appear regularly at festivals, including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Their mesmerizing performances bring people together to share the magic of this time-honored, increasingly popular art form.

The storytelling weekend kicked off on Friday, May 31, with a writing workshop. Minton Sparks returned to conduct a 3-hour interactive writing workshop, “My Crazy Kin—Transform Your Family Stories into a Compelling Personal Narrative.”

2020, the 3rd Annual Flatwater Tales
Storytelling Festival Posponed!

The 3rd Annual Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival planned live storytelling with 3 performances by 3 world-class tellers! The Covid19 pandemic forced the show to be rescheduled in 2021.

Set for Saturday, June 6, 2020, the 3rd Annual Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival had scheduled  Andy Offutt Irwin, Bil Lepp, and Kim Weitkamp to conduct three performances at the Historic Grove Theater in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with different stories at each show. The performances were to be from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Family Show), from 2 to 5 p.m., and 7 to 10 p.m.

Andy, Bil, and Kim agreed to join us all back in Oak Ridge in June 2021! And meanwhile we are continuing with a significant project to help our venue, the Historic Grove Theater become even better as a significant cultural landmark in our area.

Flatwater Tales Created For Oak Ridge Residents and Visitors

This are an annual event offered by the three Rotary Clubs in Oak Ridge. The festivals’ goals are to help bring our community together, introduce others to Oak Ridge, support local economic activity, and raise funds for the clubs’ community projects.

We expect to grow Flatwater Tales to include local and regional lore, music, and history, and to help share the Oak Ridge story – past, present, and future – with a wider audience. We want to expand our storytelling training to include helping children, seniors, and veterans find their voices using this age-old art form.

The Oak Ridge Fund for Achieving Community Excellence (ORFace) deemed this project an important addition to the culture of Oak Ridge, long known for outstanding achievement in science, education and the arts. ORFace’s first grant was significant in its support of the first presentation of Flatwater Tales.

ORFace is an affiliate fund of the East Tennessee Foundation, which has supported the 25 counties of East Tennessee through more that $336 million in grants made to worthy projects since 1986.



Donate and Sponsorships

Welcome to our online Donate/Sponsor page. Flatwater Tales is a Rotary project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Our financial partner is the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. When you make your online tax deductible donation or sponsorship, the funds will go into their Flatwater Tales account.

To make a donation click the Donate button below and enter your amount and complete your transaction. The donated funds will sustain and grow Flatwater Tales.

To become a Sponsor of the 2020 Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival with recognition in our publicity materials and during the events, choose your Sponsorship Level from the list below. Then click the Donate button at the bottom of the page. Complete your transaction by entering your donation amount.

Questions, comments? Email us at flatwatertales@gmail.com

Sponsorship Levels
Anecdote                         $100 – $199
Vignette                           $200 – $499
Yarn                                     $500 – $999
Tall Tale                             $1000 to $2,499
Legend                              $2,500 to $4,999 – get 2 comp tickets
Presenting Sponsor $5,000 & above – get 4 comp tickets