This is Part 3 of 5 with Timpanogos Storytelling vs. FanX. You can find Part 1 by clicking here. You can find Part 2 by clicking here.
I have shivers of excitement when the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and FanX come around. Then they killed some of my joy when they landed on the same weekend of September 5-7, 2019. What about the spine tingling offerings found at each of these events?
The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival has a “Shivers in the Night,” which is the late evening concert on Friday night. This tradition has happened for quite a few years now. Timpanogos usually warns people that these stories are best suited for those who are aged 12 and up. That said, I have two boys and have brought them as soon as they turned 8. So far, I have not experienced any storytelling that made me think, “Huh, I better leave my sons at home.”
I have had a ghoulish fun time for the “Shivers in the Night.” The best sets were when Timpanogos was still located at the Mt. Timpanogos Park in Orem, Utah. Why, dare you ask? This was when half of the storytelling was done by people out-of-state and half was done by local tellers who won with “The Hauntings” Contest put on by Timpanogos. The amazing April Johnson leads and guides that contest and was able to convince the Timpanogos Board to feature winners with the Festival. The stories were heard before the Shivers concert as the Hauntings contest is held every October.
Now, Timpanogos is in the Ashton Gardens/Electric Park in Lehi, Utah. Ever since that move, it felt like something scary happened to “Shivers in the Night”…as in not enough scary for the audience. Timpanogos stopped choosing a winner (or two or three) from “The Hauntings.” I usually go and get a rated G/PG with ghost stories and not a more PG/PG-13. I am assuming that 2019 improved its fear factor due to Simon Brooks, Motoko, Antonio Rocha, and Tim Lowry being part of the line-up. I would love to hear from anyone who attended (or told) at the 2019 Shivers to share your thoughts. Or thoughts from anyone? Although I cannot attest to the storytelling at the “Shivers in the Night” for 2019 as I was at FanX, I do have years and years of this concert series and still feel qualified to touch on trends there…for good or ill. So I will go on from past years and not of this year.
There was one year of “Shivers in the Night” when it felt like any other storytelling session. Yes, the storytelling itself was wonderful and of high-quality and worth listening to, though I am concerned when it is advertised as “Shivers” and does not deliver on its promise. During this particular year, there was a father and son sitting one row ahead of me. After four stories told and not even a whisper or mention of ghosts or monsters or any such beasts, one of the storytellers shared a folktale that was a little darker. The son turned to his dad, “We’re FINALLY getting something scary.” The dad nodded his head, “Yes, finally.” In my mind, I was nodding along. I still enjoyed the concert. Though relieved that we had something scary for our efforts of preparing our minds for something to haunt us on the drive home.
Many times, Timpanogos spotlights the out-of-state tellers rather than the local tellers. This is not uncommon for many events. There is excitement (and getting your money’s worth) of having those out-of-state tellers tell. But, not all storytellers have scary repertoire. Let me repeat that. Not. All. Storytellers. Have Scary. Repertoire.
That is fine. We need storytellers of many skill sets. The storytellers need to tell what is their specialty. Please, do not take a story and force it to be a scary story when it is not. Be more mindful to your hosts/audiences and tell them the real reasons you were chosen to tell at the event.
Perhaps this is something many of our out-of-state storytellers do not realize. Utah, being predominately members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LOVE ghost stories. We believe in spirits–good and bad. We also believe that Satan is real and that he leads a 1/3 of the host of heavens to tempt and try us. The Bible talks about people possessed by demons. We believe what the Bible says. That also makes us intrigued by the forces of good and evil. That is probably why there is a huge percentage of Church of Jesus Christ members (LDS) who love Star Wars with the light and dark sides…but I digress.
Basically, give us scary stories. Not the gore. Just the suspense and anticipation. The beauty of a scary story is that after hearing a scary story, you feel like anything you come upon in life is possible to get through. There are studies about the positive outcomes of hearing scary stories. We want to experience those benefits.
As for FanX, there has been ghost storytelling ever since its second event.
Last spring, I headed to one of these ghost storytelling concerts performed by Daniel Bishop, the Storyteller. I got there on time, but there was a line of 15 people because all the seats were filled. We could only get in if someone walked out. Well, 15 minutes passed and everyone was so engaged that no one walked out. By this time, the rest of the line left so they could see if another panel or session was available. I, being committed to story and having enjoyed Daniel’s performances in the past, waited.
One of the volunteers, who would peek out every so often, noticed that I was still around. She offered her chair–reserved for her as a volunteer–to me. I told her I couldn’t do that to her but would take the chance and see if another opening came about. She insisted and said she had been sitting too much anyways. I then took that gift of a chair and enjoyed the rest of the hour with Daniel Bishop. The lights were down low and Daniel had a campfire, only it couldn’t be or it would have been a fire hazard. I found out later that Daniel had created part of it and then had another friend assist in sewing some stones and such. It gave the perfect ambiance for the chilling tales he told.
Daniel Bishop, the Storyteller, has a following at FanX. It seems no matter what room they put him in, it gets filled. Room for 100? Full. Room for 200? Full. Room for 300? Full. Although FanX has a KidCon (more about that in the upcoming Part 4), the FanX people never asked Daniel to tell for that part…until 2019. Funny enough, he had about 30 people which is small compared to his usual adult crowds. We had a good chuckle about it. Who said storytelling is only for kids? The adults clearly want to absorb any and all ghost stories.
After his adult ghost story sessions, people flocked around him like vultures. The volunteers had to ask people to exit the room to allow time for the next session to get ready. So here was a gathering of people still talking with Daniel in the hallways. I stood back, letting my friend enjoy this moment. I eventually got to talk to him–after at least waiting 20 minutes.
Here are Daniel’s reflections and experiences with FanX:
For this round of spine-tingling offerings, the winner is FanX as it is more consistent in having actual “shiver” tales. Timpanogos is a hit or miss on getting what it claims to have for its audience.
I know this score would increase dramatically if they used local winners of “The Hauntings” contest in combination of perhaps 1-3 out-of-state tellers who truly have good with that kind of repertoire.
So the scores so far are as follows:
Timpanogos Storytelling: 1 point for the humor category
FanX: 1 point for the spine tingling category
Part 4 will delve into the multi-generational approach, the mingling possibilities, and the miscellaneous (or opportunities beyond what is obvious to the event). Each of those three categories is worth one point.
Interested in Part 1? That can be found here. Interested in Part 2? That can be found here. Want the next installments of 4, or 5 on Timpanogos vs. FanX? My final verdict with Part 5? Come back tomorrow. And the next day after that.
Until we tell again.