Cap’s Off to You!–Legacy: Fables Adventure Studio- and Celebrating Story

Legacy-Fables collage with logoFeaturing:  Legacy: Fables Adventure Studio – and Celebrating Story

Role-playing Studio with Immersive Environments and Captivating Narrators

Legacy: Fables is a unique choose-your-own-adventure storytelling experience for groups of 4-6 people at a time in an intimate setting with enthralling ambiance to boost the imagination in Provo, Utah.  I was in shock when this organization slipped by my ever-alert storytelling radar as this organization made many appearances at role-playing and comic conventions.  While establishing themselves in 2017, the official opening was September 24, 2019.  I came upon Legacy: Fables when researching different family passes available in the Wasatch area.  This particular one had me pouring over their website and videos.  I got to chat with Alysha Milligan, who works alongside her husband Rob-whom you could call the mastermind, as well as partner Zack Barker and other dedicated people.  The vision and potential of this already-wonderful organization thrills me, and I encourage you to go and be part of the story yourself.  We are also excited to work with Legacy: Fables for our 5th Annual Festival on May 13, 2020 where they can give a taste of what happens during a studio session/adventure.

Interview before Legacy: Fables had their grand opening on September 24, 2019.  We received permission to re-publish this interview with adaptations in brackets.  Clicking here also gives you an under-2-minute video on what Legacy: Fables is like.

In 3-4 sentences, how would you introduce someone to Legacy Fables who has never heard of it?

Fables is a first-of-it’s-kind Adventure Studio where you can become the hero or villain of an epic tale. Our talented narrators guide the guests through a story but leave it to them to make the choices the protagonist would usually make. This can change the plot drastically and results in each guest to walk away with a story that is entirely their own.

What sparked the idea for Legacy Fables? What inspired it?

Years ago, Rob played a game called Dungeons and Dragons and hated it. It was too complicated and didn’t know much about it. Honestly, he hated it. Years later, he rediscovered it through a show called Critical Role, which portrays a deep and emotional adventure driven by several talented voice actors. He tried it again and discovered that it was an experience that anybody could love. Now he’s introduced many people to the merits of group storytelling but wanted to bring it to more people. Fables is a place where groups can go on immersive adventures together without the burden of learning several books worth of rules.

Please describe the experience(s) a customer can expect to have. How long is it? Is it one room? What do they see? What do they do?

When guests enter Fables, they will be checked in by a Fables Concierge. While waiting for their experience to begin, guests can explore the Emporium, a Victorian style collector’s den full of various strange artifacts and objects from other worlds — with several secrets hidden throughout. When the time comes, they will be ushered to their room. Our first and current offering is our fantasy experience, where guests will be seated at a table illuminated by candlelight in the Broken Shield Tavern. The setting is further support by both sounds and smells As they take their seat, they will be introduced to their proxies in the story and the narrator begin setting the first scene.

Why should people want to come to your establishment?

Come here to get away from screens and make a real human connection with other people, make new friends, and in general invigorate your creativity. When you read a book, see a movie, or play a game, you take on the role of an observer: someone who simply watches the story unfold. Your mood, opinions, and ideals have no sway on the plot. You rejoice in someone else’s successes and mourn their failures. But you’re often left wondering what it would be like to be the hero. You can experience heroism here.

What artistic elements went into creating these experiences? (set design, props, actors, costumes, voices, lighting, sound effects, special effects, music?)

All of the above. We have no background in production ourselves but through research and trial and error crafted the Tavern and the Collectors Den. We created our, room by hand as well as many of our props. The sound effects and lighting are all part of our original set design. Our Narrators, also called Watchers, wear handmade leather outfits crafted by a local artisan. Each Watcher was selected based on skills steeped in improvisation and storytelling.

What makes Legacy Fables unique compared to any other experience-based adventures?

Rather than interacting with characters of another world you get to BE the characters upon which the entire narrative rests.

Any fun facts you’d like mentioned?

One fun thing that just happened was Brandon Sanderson’s personal staff come through! They left us beaming reviews on Google and Instagram. If you don’t know, Brandon Sanderson is a New York Times Best Selling Author that also teaches at [Brigham Young University] as a give back to the community.  My husband is the writer for our business and studied under Mr. Sanderson so it was a huge honor for us when they wanted to come through and even better when they LOVED the storytelling aspects!

For those interested in sharing their experience with others, we offer the ability to live stream their experience to services like Twitch. It’s like being the star of your own show.

How much does it cost? Are there group rates?

For one hour it is $22.50 but, for a limited time, we’re offering a discount at $18 and will further discount the price if you bring a full party of 6 people. The full party discount is $15 a person. Participation in our Opening event discounts our Season Passes which are $250 for 12 sessions.

Did I miss something you’d like included or mentioned?

We offer a Give-Back program to the Community. Part of the admission to our rooms goes to fund monthly workshops focused on several “Makerspace” type initiatives. We focus on children but are not limiting the workshops to a specific age range. Those interested in writing books, sculpting clay, or bringing ideas to life will be given a place to create and connect with others similarly minded for free during 2-hour sessions guided by a Master in their craft.

Basic Info:

Legacy Fables: Adventure Studio

443 North University Avenue, Provo, UT

Robert Milligan

801-556-8565

rob@legacyfables.com

www.legacyfables.com

@legacyfables on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube

 

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Legacy: Fables!

Remember, we also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 5th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 13, 2020.  Give back to Story Crossroads by donating through the #GivingTuesday Facebook Fundraiser from December 3, 2019 to December 17, 2019.

Story Snippets…with Clever Octopus

Our Story Snippets series delves into moments that have brought delight to us with Story Crossroads.  This is a first of several to come on this blog.

For our 4th Annual Story Crossroads Festival on May 15, 2019, we wanted more hands-on story opportunities for people.  This meant materials.  This meant materials we did not have yet.  Thankfully, we received some materials needing a purpose through a Mini-Grant from Clever Octopus, a nonprofit creative reuse center.

We gathered boxes of wood blocks from Clever Octopus that Kurt Munson sawed and sanded so that small to large hands could handle them with care.  Then,  Spencer Thompson cut pieces of felt to glue on the blocks so that these turned into mini flannel boards.

We were thrilled when Clever Octopus also had tons of scrapbook felt embellishments in the form of frogs, lizards, fish, whales, starfish, seahorses, snakes, planes, and basketballs.  Each family that came by could take 3-4 blocks so that these characters (4 in a package) could roam on these blocks, interact with each other, and create stories for all to celebrate.  Extra bits of felt could be used to decorate the story blocks to add to the scenery.  The day of the Festival was super windy so we had to hang onto the felt.  Thank goodness that wooden blocks have some weight to them!

After the Festival, there were leftover felt characters so we transformed them into another story project at our 4th Annual Youth Teller Reunion on July 13, 2019.

Every year we have about 30 youth tellers and we have had 99 youth tellers on stage so far.  We gather for our Youth Teller Reunion at Boondocks in Draper, Utah.  Once youth tell at our event, they are always part of the Story Crossroads Family.  We had a youth teller attend the 2019 Reunion that told at our Inaugural event in 2016.  Some youth tellers are now in college.

We kick-off with a storytelling performance by the Executive Director, Rachel Hedman.  She never tells during the Festival itself as she has too much to oversee and do.  Though, she looks forward to telling stories for the youth.  She started storytelling as a sophomore in high school and celebrated 25 years in the art exactly this month and year.

Finally, story games are played and we work on a story project or craft.

We had the youth tellers and families take some blue cardstock (one paper per person). They chose where to place three long cuts.  This time, the embellished felt characters  were stuck onto Popsicle sticks so that they could move within the cut slots or jump to another slot.  The cardstock itself was decorated as a scene for the story.

We had preschool-aged kids to college-aged kids engaged with these cardstock story scenes.  Although people had many of the same characters, the adventures were varied from plane crashes to basketball champions to hungry snakes and on and on.  Combine these together…and the story possibilities were endless.  Still are to this day.

Could you tell a story…or a story snippet from the pictures?

Check out our previous post of thankfulness to Clever Octopus by clicking here.

Cap’s Off to You!–The Story Mine / David Bullock & Cathy Barker – and Celebrating Story

The Story Mine collage - David Bullock and Cathy BarkerFeaturing:  The Story Mine / David Bullock & Cathy Barker

7-Year Radio Show with 344 Episodes

The Story Mine radio show on KPCW brought storytelling to people who needed to discover the art.  David Bullock and Cathy Barker volunteered their time to make sure each 30-minute episode was compiled, edited, and ready to air every Sunday morning at 8:30am for seven years. They had no paid staff.  They had no funds from KPCW to gather in the material.  They invited Utah storytellers to record for free in their studio. This dedication from David and Cathy shone as bright as gold on the radio waves and into the homes of people in Park City, in Utah, and around the world.  Storytellers known locally and internationally were featured with the hard-to-believe-but-true commentary from David and Cathy. These people, amazing storytellers in their own right, gave their all to others.  The Story Mine will forever be treasured.

David Bullock and Cathy Barker are a husband and wife team like no other.  They decided to live in a cabin among the mountains and be surrounded by story full-time.  Not that anyone else could have adventures, but how many people come upon moose and bear on a regular basis?  And of the two, moose are certainly more dangerous.  David can attest to it–and share on stage–but that is another story.

In fact, when I approached David about doing this piece, he said, “We have had so many near Deer misses in the past few weeks. Oh the stories I could tell.  It’s been way below 0 degrees for several nights. Our water lines froze but we took care of it and haven’t had problems since. We really do enjoy our life up here. Who gets to Snowmobile to get to or away from their home?”

I reminded David that on Facebook he said that it got to -9 degrees.  He then responded, “It’s wonderful up here.  I could dazzle you with stories about my encounters with Sasquatch but you’d think I was telling a Tall Tale. I love stories.”

Rather than focusing on himself, David made sure the credit was given where it was due and declared, “Cathy is the best Program Manager and Producer at the Station.”  David added, “While other Radio Storytelling programs have a full staff to produce a show, the Story Mine had [us], Volunteers at KPCW.” Before The Story Mine became The Story Mine, David had already been sharing 3-minute stories on KPCW “Tales From The Wasatch Back” in 2011 and 2012.

Here are more moments shared in David’s words:

In the Summer of 2012, Cathy and [I] approached the Management of KPCW about airing a Storytelling Radio Broadcast Program, which would feature stories told by Storytellers from all around the World. [We] were asked to Produce a “Pilot” show to demonstrate what [we] had to offer. Three separate Pilots were produced by [us] and submitted to the Board of Directors. [The] proposal was heartily accepted and the first Story Mine program was Aired/Streamed across the globe on October 7, 2012 featuring Author Stacy Dymalski, a Humorist Amy Tisovic, and Beloved Local Storyteller, Karl Behling.

Name a well known Storyteller and that teller has probably shared their tales with The Story Mine. Local Storytellers were also invited to come into the Mine and record their Stories so they could be shared with the world. 

The Story Mine was a labor of Love. Cathy and I found a way to gain free access to a Multi Million dollar Recording Studio, (KPCW Park City, Utah) one of the most awarded and successful NPR affiliates in the United States, to share our love of Story and help Foster this wonderful performance art.

I asked David about favorite moments or shows, and he responded:

It’s hard to pick a favorite show, we loved producing and listening to them all. One of our favorite shows was when Cathy and I did a dramatic reading of Mark Twain’s Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, it was just like the real characters were  here. Another was our 2012 Christmas show when Santa Visited the Story Mine and got Mud all over the floor of the Mine Tunnel. That one was an impromptu performance starring Cathy, [me] and Santa Himself. It was so rewarding to play back the recording and listen to what we spontaneously came up with. Having fun like that made us want to put a recording studio in our basement -so we did. We had a little company called Barking Dog Productions. 

As for what David and Cathy see as the greatest impact in their own lives, David shared:

I guess the best reward we got out of volunteering all of our time and energies to our Weekly Sunday Morning Radio Show, was the meeting and associating with so many wonderful people who shared common interests. 

Then I remembered when David Bullock announced the final episode for The Story Mine.  July 8, 2019 was the farewell performance.  My own world was on pause–it seemed unreal.  Though, I breathed again, the world continued forward, and I reflected on how much fun I had in listening to that show.

David explained:

The Station had plans to change their Weekend Morning programming to an NPR format, and rather than going to a different time slot, Cathy and [I] chose to go out and again, find and tell [our] own Stories.

I could practically see the sparkle and gleam in David’s eyes when he said, “Boy, do we have stories to tell.”

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to The Story Mine / David Bullock & Cathy Barker!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 5th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 13, 2020.

Timpanogos Storytelling vs. FanX – Part 5 of 5…the Final Verdict

This is Part 5 of 5 with Timpanogos Storytelling vs. FanX.  Find Part 1 by clicking here.  Find Part 2 by clicking here.  Find Part 3 by clicking hereFind Part 4 by clicking here.

For the ultimate verdict of Timpanogos Storytelling Festival versus FanX, I pondered on what messages they each taught me by attending.  Yes, I had to split myself during the weekend of September 5-7, 2019, though it was enough to see clear themes emerging. Obviously, this whole series is subjective and what I hear are not what everyone else would hear.

Message I Heard from Timpanogos Storytelling:  Discover the Extraordinary from the Ordinary

When an emcee introduces the professional storytellers onto the stage, we learn some fascinating details or at least feel excited to listen to some stories.  With the applause summoning the storytellers, we hear their voices either for the first time or as a beloved voice from past Timpanogos festivals.  No matter the garb the storyteller wears, we can picture ourselves in their stories and personally connect regardless of if the story is a folktale, tall tale, personal tale, or any other kind.  The story starts normal and then builds upon itself to something extraordinary.  Even a contemporary tale transports the listener to another place and new people or characters to meet.  In that moment, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Antonio Rocha took an ordinary Virtual Reality set and covered his eyes with it.  This was extraordinary already as an unspoken rule of storytelling is keeping eye contact.  Antonio completely took that away.  Yet, his story was of a simple moment of someone open to imagination and confusing with reality.  He had the chance to fly and did not feel ready despite having a Virtual Reality set on.  It was a pure suspension of disbelief of the most adorable level.  He opted for a plank that was high in the sky.  He crawled across the carpet as if he would fall to his death.  Antonio merged his miming with the narrative.  He took a risk telling that story without the assistance of his eyes…but it worked.

Message I Heard from FanX:  Discover the Ordinary from the Extraordinary

When you are in the Grand Ballroom with rock music blaring and the emcee reminds you that the special guest can hear you from behind the curtains, many people stand and shout out and await that first glimpse of a celebrity.  Oftentimes, the celebrity comes out in casual clothing.  One celebrity twirls her hair almost throughout the interview.  Another celebrity needs to scratch to be comfortable.  Even another celebrity tells “Dad jokes” as the person next door would.  In that moment, the extraordinary becomes ordinary.

Susan Egan, known for being Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” for Disney’s first of many musicals, commented on two young women dressed as Belle from the animation.  Susan loved how there was not any judgement passed of “who more Belle better.”  One had the commoner garb with the white and blue dress while the other had the bright yellow ballgown.  She had watched as they approached each other before the panel began so that they could get a picture together.  Susan loved that comic conventions could bring people together and be so complimentary.  She opened up about how she was known as “Calamity Belle” with breaking or spraining ligaments during Broadway shows.  She laughed at her adventures and brought us closer to her.  She was like any one of us.  I had the privilege of being on the front row of this panel (you can see me in the blue hair and gray cap in the picture above).  Susan was asked questions about voicing Megara on the animated Disney “Hercules.”  Well, the actual question was, “Can you sing ‘I won’t say I’m in love’?”  She still enjoys singing it.  She wanted us to be the muses.  She filmed it with her phone as we all helped in the tune.  Anytime people sing together, there is unity and connection.  Singing is an ordinary thing to do as human beings.  Again, we felt like she “got us” because she was one of us.


So who wins?  Timpanogos Storytelling?  FanX?

Here’s a review of the scores:

Timpanogos Earned 4 Points:  1 point for the humor category, 1 point for the multi-generational category, 1 point for miscellaneous (or opportunities beyond what is obvious to the event), and 1 point for message/theme/take-away

FanX Earned 4 Points:  1 point for spine tingling category, 1 point for mingling possibilities, 1 point for miscellaneous (or opportunities beyond what is obvious to the event), and 1 point for message/theme/take-away

My oldest son would never let me end this with a tie.  The tie-breaker is in the level of fulfillment once I am driving home and reflecting.  This is different than the message/theme/take-away as this is more realizations in the moment versus the impact after the experience.

And the winner is……brummmm, brummmm, brummmm

TIMPANOGOS STORYTELLING!

There were a couple times during FanX that I thought, “I wonder what I could be catching while at Timpanogos?”  I knew The Apple Seed Storytelling Radio Show through BYU Radio was live-streaming one of the tents.   I was tempted to watch some while at FanX.  Then, I had the reassurance that it would still be available after the livestream.  Whew!  Because there is no Wifi at the Salt Palace (not free anyways) and my cell phone battery would scream at me.  Or really go kaput and die.

While driving home from FanX, my husband and I loved sharing moments together.  We laughed.  We discussed.  Though, by the next morning, I did not feel motivated to create more art from what I heard except being inspired to get a couple book proposals done.

While driving home from Timpanogos, my sons and I loved sharing moments together.  We laughed.  We discussed.  Then, the next morning, I was still reflecting on the many styles and types of storytelling.  I was motivated to organize my story room better, re-think some stories from decades ago, delve deeper into crafting and where I have strengths and what I am lazy at doing, and finally celebrating on the power of story and reiterating why I have continued this art–on stage and as a festival organizer–for 25 years and counting.  I am 40 years old.  More than half of my life has been storytelling.

Now…is that something extraordinary becoming ordinary or the ordinary becoming extraordinary?  Both.  And for this I am thankful.

Interested in Part 1?  That can be found here.  Interested in Part 2?  That can be found here.  Interested in Part 3?  That can be found hereInterested in Part 4?  That can be found here.

Until we tell again.

Photo credit:  Norm Berke – picture of Antonio Rocha with Virtual Reality set on

Photo credit:  FanX – picture of Panel Audience with Susan Egan (and with me in front row)

Timpanogos Storytelling vs. FanX – Part 4 of 5

This is Part 4 of 5 with Timpanogos Storytelling vs. FanX.  You can find Part 1 by clicking here.  You can find Part 2 by clicking here.  You can find Part 3 by clicking here.

I love the people of all types, reunions, and random adventures that can be had at both  the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and FanX…and tortured me for being on the same weekend of September 5-7, 2019.  How do they compare in multi-generational approach, the mingling possibilities, and the miscellaneous (or opportunities beyond what is obvious to the event)?

Multi-Generational Approach:

Timpanogos Storytelling draws an older crowd than any other Utah storytelling festival.  Though, it is still a young crowd compared to storytelling festivals on a national or worldwide level. There is an intense need to do things as families so most activities here already keep that in mind.  Any age you can think of (up to 104) is likely represented at this Festival.

From the beginning, Timpanogos Storytelling Festival has had the Alpine School District participate in having their students develop stories.  These are polished youngsters…sometimes too polished or “frozen” which is probably because parents have them memorize rather than let them flow with the story, though impressive none the less.  Meanwhile, the National Youth Storytelling program, known by many names and having jumped from state to state, came to Timpanogos Storytelling as a permanent home.  All receive the title of “National Youth Teller” for any youth tellers who make it on the stage whether from Alpine School District, youth winners from Timpanogos-sponsored contests, out-of-state (with Texas and New York being most popular). When students see people their age tell on stage, they are even more drawn to the art of storytelling.

The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival recommends people aged 8+ to attend, though no one is turned away.  The Timpanogos people still prepare for what will encourage imaginations.  The “Bedtime Stories” concert has stories geared for more the preschool to elementary ages.  It can be a ruckus time with that many littles in one area, though adults and youth cheer when it comes time for the Krispy Kreme donuts as that coveted bedtime treat.

Timpanogos reinstated their “Family Tent” that have stories geared for people aged 12 or younger this year.  Many of the sessions involved puppetry despite a separate puppetry tent on the Ashton Gardens grounds in Lehi, Utah.

FanX has a KidCon…way far away in the deepest, darkest dungeons–err area–of the Salt Palace.  When I decided to attend a performance by Daniel Bishop, the Storyteller, I was late despite leaving 20 minutes to get there in time.  If I was counting steps that day for that journey alone, I am sure it would have been past 5,000 easily.

Once I got to the KidCon portion, I was delighted by some of the hands-on activities.  I do wish that the KidCon was closer to the other panels and sessions, though probably every room had to be used.  Maybe nothing can be helped to have KidCon be closer.  I was also surprised that it was practically one really opened-up room without any dedicated rooms where you could close the door and focus better on the presentation.

Between the distance (not to be helpful to anyone with strollers) and the awkward placement of booths and activities, I certainly hope FanX improves this portion of their event.

For general sessions, many special guests mention, “Oh, there are children in the room!” This could be another factor to why the language is cleaner at FanX than any other comic conventions.  Though, as I shared in Part 2 focusing on humor, I have a feeling the special guests are more respectful in language due to direct or indirect guidance from FanX administration.

Mingling Possibilities:

Timpanogos Storytelling lets the Utah Storytelling Guild hold a “Meet n’ Mingle” each year.  People trickle in to this Meet n’ Mingle.  What starts as 15 people at least doubles 10 minutes later.  Most people are from Utah and share what chapter they come from while a few people from out-of-state like Ron Chick (California-though a dues-paying USG member) or Karla Huntsman (Nevada-used to live in Utah and still pays dues) or Rachel Ann Harding (Colorado-has Story Story podcast).  Lately, Richard Thurman, the Founding Executive Director of the Utah Renaissance Faire, attends to get to know the storytellers and see who is willing and able to tell such period pieces.  He was pleased with the story fortune telling provided through Story Crossroads.

As people roam from tent to tent and session to session, there are reunions filled with hugs and laughter.  I look forward to all the connections.  Some people I got to see were Beth Ohlsson–ETSU classmate with the Masters in Storytelling who also told on the Timp stage, Jay McLaughlin-friend from Texas who I used to see all the time through National Storytelling Conferences and the Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (YES!), and Katie Ufford-Key person in organizing the Vernal Storytelling Festival.

However, despite all these happy reunions, there were not other Meet n’ Mingles set up except for the Utah Storytelling Guild.  Could there be some gatherings during the lunch hour for certain groups of people?  True, there are the Swappin’ Groups open mike for Adults and Youth.  I would love to see more than the listening.  What of discussions and conversations?

Then you have FanX with a long list of cosplay gatherings, Dungeons & Dragons gaming, and other panels that give the chance of having more lasting connections than a quick hug, shaking of hands, or a snap of the phone for a picture.

Here is an example of some of the gatherings or “worlds” or “fandoms” or “cosplay meet-ups,” as usually phrased:  Kick-Off for Cosplay (any kind); “Blast from the Past” Cosplay; The Boys of Summer, Sandlot; Fantasy, Fairies and LOTR (Lord of the Rings); Anne of Green Gables; Stars of the CW; Flash; RWBY; Kids of Cosplay; Families that Cosplay, etc.

Then you have the different types of Role Playing Groups where you can interact.  Here, too, there are so many themes depending on your mood.  The groups from this past FanX were: Battle of the Undead Monster; City’s Sewers Underhive; Evil Archmage’s Dungeon; Haunted Elvish Village; The Dragon’s Horde.

Evermore, an immersive role-playing theme park, had several actors in garb do a presentation.  Afterwards, many people stayed in the hallways to chat with these people in-character.  An impromptu sea shanty was sung by the Evermore pirate.  He taught us what we could sing.  More and more people gathered around.  Another person took a piece of luggage and transformed it into a drum.  It was a rousing and thrilling moment.

Miscellaneous (or opportunities beyond what is obvious to the event):

Timpanogos Storytelling celebrates many arts from pottery to puppetry to music.  Each of those arts has their own tent/area.

People have to arrive early at the pottery tent before all the slots are filled.  Anywhere from 3-7 potters assist mostly kids–and the occasional adult–on creating a goblet, bowl, a castle tower, or something experimental (as with my abstract tulip tower).  As I bring my sons to Timpanogos, this is one of their favorite activities.  There is also an area to simply work with clay and make as many clay snakes as you want…or something more complex.  You are only limited by your imagination.

The Puppetry Arts Guild of Utah have brought vintage and antique puppets behind glass cases as well as a huge ninja man.  Okay, so I don’t know the puppet’s name but that is what it reminds me of with all the kicks that kids make it do.  It is one large marionette encased by a wooden crate of some sort as the kids learn how to bring this ninja man to life. There has also been either a dragon or dinosaur head (dragons and dinosaurs are related, right?) that people can turn and move using super strong rods and pulleys.  Joe Flores, who heads the Puppetry Arts Guild, dedicates much time in sharing details when people listen.  Sometimes you can’t hear him.  That is when he does miming.  Though his stories speak volumes.

The music at Timpanogos ranges from the idyllic to the country and jazz to rousing tunes.  These are professional musicians who know how to tell a story through their instruments–whether that be vocal or otherwise.  Sometimes, we get to hear stories between sets.  Sam Payne was first a musician and then delved more into the world of storytelling due to Timpanogos.  Now he hosts The Apple Seed Storytelling Radio Show through BYU Radio.   With the 30th Anniversary of Timpanogos, almost all of Friday, September 6th was live-streamed.

Other opportunities are Swappin’ Grounds open mike for adults and youth, academic discussions on various storytelling topics, and exploring the 55-acres of Ashton Gardens.  There are 15 themed gardens with some being: a secret garden; an aromatic garden with plants that smell like chocolate, mint, and many kinds of fruit;  and “I Am the Light of the World” sculpture garden with many images of Christ’s life on earth.  My boys love walking behind the waterfall.  They laugh that the waterfall can be turned on and off though it is majestic despite knowing this detail.

FanX is massive as it takes over the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah The Vendor Hall alone feels as expansive as the 55-acres of Ashton Gardens.  At least that is what my feet told me after a day at FanX.  The artist alley is inspiring to see so many styles to put ink, chalk, pencil, pen, or any other media to paper, wood, metal, and on and on.

The people from Utah Pirate/R.E.A.C.H. Utah are always there with two massive pirate ships that kids can climb up, slide on, and holler out things like, “Ahoy there!” and “Ye landlubber must walk the plank!”

Many photo ops are available from a replica for Doctor Who’s Tardis to Golem to a life-sized Batman.  As most people are dressed up in some way, people like to stop each other.  One lady dressed as April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She said that she was on the look-out for anyone else dressed from that Fandom.  Then, he came upon a little boy dressed as one the Turtles.  The mother was so touched when “April” wanted a picture with her son.  Later on, the mother wanted to discover who the person was that made her son feel comfortable and excited for going to FanX.  Someone recognized “April” on Facebook, the mother shared her thanks, and now they can celebrate this moment.

The KidCon has many STEM activities including two inflatable planetariums that could each hold about 25-30 people while someone pointed out the stars.  Maybe in the future there would be constellation stories told in there.  Okay, now I am distracted thinking of star stories across cultures…I’m back.

The panels on film and books are expected at FanX.  As Timpanogos has academic discussions on storytelling, so does FanX have more serious talks for budding authors.  I attended a panel called, “Ask a New York Times Bestselling Author Anything (About Writing).” I even dared to ask a question about book proposals and what their editor told them or what they suspected their editors thought.  Jennifer Nielsen said that there are books that sell and there are books that make lists.  Your aim is for a book to make lists, create a buzz, and have word-of-mouth be your friend.

I could go on and on much like I could go on and on about all the fun to be had at both Timpanogos Storytelling and FanX.

So you curious as to my scores?  Who wins?

Multi-Generational Approach:  Timpanogos Storytelling wins by HUGE margin, no close call here

Mingling Possibilities:   FanX wins by HUGE margin, also no close call here

Miscellaneous (or opportunities beyond what is obvious to the event):Tie for Timpanogos Storytelling and FanX

These scores added to the previous categories are as follows:

Timpanogos Storytelling: 1 point for the humor category, 1 point for the multi-generational category, 1 point for miscellaneous

Total for Timpanogos Storytelling = 3 points

FanX: 1 point for the spine tingling category, 1 point for mingling possibilities, 1 point for miscellaneous

Total  for FanX = 3 points

Part 5 will explore the most prevalent theme of the event and the ultimate score also known as “My Final Verdict.”

Interested in Part 1?  That can be found here.  Interested in Part 2?  That can be found here.  Interested in Part 3?  That can be found here.  Want the final verdict with Part 5?  Come back tomorrow.

Until we tell again.