Cap’s Off to You!–Karl Behling – Mountain Man – and Celebrating Story

Karl Behling - Mountain Man collage

Karl Behling is either in disguise as a teacher who then becomes a storytellin’ Mountain Man or a storytellin’ teacher who then becomes a Mountain Man. Either way, he brings such delight with the Mountain Man Petting Zoo.  There are no live animals at a Mountain Man Petting Zoo. The pelts are spread out and it’s the safest way to pet a coyote or fox. Though, as Sam Payne joked, there is still a “live” Mountain Man.  Karl is as “live” as they come. We asked if Karl could do this Mountain Man Petting Zoo as part of our first year of offering hands-on story activities with the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival on May 23, 2018. He said yes.  All went well…and then Mother Nature hit.

The night before the Festival, it had poured and pounded with rain. We thought a back-up plan would be needed as the daytime part is held at the Murray City Park. Thankfully, we did not need to use that plan. The morning of May 23rd, the ominous dark-clouded sky transformed into robin-egg-blue sky with puffs of white. Karl Behling could set up his canopy and furs amongst the freshly watered green grass.  The stream behind him bubbled more wildly and the butterflies returned from their shelters.

Students upon students met Karl and discovered some Mountain Man games. Some kids drew the Mountain Man Petting Zoo as one of their favorite experiences at the Festival. Sometimes as many as five kids were petting the same pelt. Karl introduced them to turtle poop…or what came out of his turtle shell bag that seemed to be jelly beans.  Or was it?  There is a piece highlighting Karl with the Apple Seed storytelling radio show archived here:

When it was time to pack up at the Murray City Park, the sun still shone. There were hints of rain. Karl was one of the last to gather his things but not in time to save his canopy and whooshed back from a gush of wind. The canopy got bent and ripped. We did not learn of until a few weeks later.  He said he wanted us to not worry and focus on the amazing time that everyone had as storytellers and story listeners.

No worries. Karl will have a canopy again. And canopy or no canopy, he is always ready to share stories.  In fact, for the 2019 Story Crossroads Festival, he will share stories from a Mountain Man’s perspective of the different cultures that made the Transcontinental Railroad possible. The Golden Spike was hammered in on May 10, 1869. As our Festival lands on May 15, 2019, we wanted to celebrate along with much of the state of Utah. Karl will share these pieces on Wednesday night, May 15th at the South Jordan Community Center and then again at the Gale Center of History and Culture on May 28th.

Learn more about Karl Behling here:

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Karl Behling!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 4th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 15, 2019.

Cap’s Off to You!–Diamond Rental (Randy Rutherford) and Celebrating Story

Diamond Rental collage.pngDiamond Rental–and specially Randy Rutherford–have been so important to have enough chairs for the 2017 and 2018 Story Crossroads Festivals.  Then came an urgent need to be solved in a few days.  We had microphones and amplifiers reserved though another organization and found out a couple days before the Festival that they would no longer be available.  I scrambled to figure out options and thought of who of my friends had their own microphones.  Luckily, we already were counting on the sound equipment of the ever-generous Annie and Dan Eastmond.  Finally, I called Randy at Diamond Rental.  “We are certainly glad you are providing those 100 extra chairs for free…any chance we can get four microphones and two amplifiers next week?”

Randy had to call around to see if the equipment was available in such a short amount of time.  He called back and said that almost all was covered.  He was short two microphone stands.  Thankfully, Parkside Elementary next to the Murray City Park offered two of their microphone stands and our sound crisis was averted.

I told Randy that I felt bad that the programs were already printed because that jumped up the in-kind donation to another level.  I promised we would place Diamond Rental up for the 2019 Festival.  Luckily, we can also celebrate here through this blog.

Diamond Rental’s motto is “What you need when you need it.”  Here Randy helped us out  exactly when we needed it.

Learn more about Diamond Rental here:

You can also see a video explaining services and equipment here plus I discovered this video clip of a story of a different situation from Paul who had to solve something quick and received help from Diamond Rental.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Diamond Rental (Randy Rutherford)!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 4th Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 15, 2019.

Cap’s Off to You!–Lowe’s and Last-Minute Kindness and Celebrating Story

lowWe cheered when the 2017 Story Crossroads Festival took place at the Murray City Park.  The trees are huge and the gentle sound of the waters brought about the best ambiance for storytelling.  Then, we discovered that only one of the three pavilions for the performances had a nice stage.  Karl Behling had a friend who had one made out of pallets.  That meant we had one more to do.  We wanted our professional story artists as well as the community tellers to enjoy at least a bit of a raised stage.  Some nice neighbors donated two pallets.  Yet, we needed a solid board for the top of these pallets plus the black spray paint.

I headed to the Lowe’s in West Jordan, Utah and found the board…but it so happened that the cutting saw was out of commission for an unknown length of time.  They recommended the Lowe’s in South Jordan.  This West Jordan one said to say that the board could be given for free to support Story Crossroads.

Then the thought occurred to me…I did not have a van or truck to carry the board that was needed for this homemade stage.  This was the day before the Festival.  I posted the need for a van or truck on Facebook.  I got a response from a neighbor (and my aunt, though my neighbor was closer).

Once the board was cut at the South  Jordan Lowe’s, I grabbed the black spray paint and a couple tools to get the job done.  I knew the board would be free.  When I got to the register, the General Manager said, “Oh, all of that will be free, too.”  I thanked them and promised that this gesture of kindness would not be forgotten.  Now you can remember with us.

Learn more about Lowe’s here:

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to Lowe’s!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 23, 2018.

Cap’s Off to You!-Utah Valley University and Celebrating Story

Utah Valley University - Dr. Dale Boam and students - imageFrom the inaugural year of Story Crossroads, we have had the connection with the Utah Valley University.  Dr. Dale H. Boam made that possible.  He is the tenured Associate Professor of Deaf Studies at UVU and attorney advocating for persons who are Deaf.  As he is a nationally certified ASL interpreter, he has graced many stages including the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.  He is always acting on his feet.  Even preparation cannot account for what will come out of a storyteller’s mouth.  He imparts this knowledge with his students in Deaf Studies.  We have been pleased that UVU, through Dr. Boam, has helped with our ASL interpretation.  Then, during our second year, UVU became a funder for Story Crossroads.

We are on the brink of sharing the “Language of Story: Visual Language on Stage” that is part of our Academic Series.  Each year, we will explore languages through the eyes of storytelling with professors who delve into these topics.  As our first one was on visual language, we opted for closed captioning to be ever-present when the video is played.

To have this film, we needed funding and Utah Valley University assisted as well as Utah Humanities and the South Jordan Arts Council.

Dr. Dale Boam, in this film, said, “I want Story Crossroads at my funeral.”  He then explained that he loved the gradual growth of the event and wants to take part until the day he dies.  Those were kind words that we will cherish always…and will aim to fulfill.

The film is scheduled to be launched for the general public in February 2018.  You can subscribe to the Story Crossroads YouTube Channel or check back at the Story Crossroads website where we have videos.  You can also see the “Teaching Story” playlist on our channel by clicking here.

Utah Valley University is praised for this continuous relationship in languages and in funding of Story Crossroads.

Here are the mission and roles shared through Utah Valley University’s website: 



Utah Valley University is a teaching institution which provides opportunity, promotes student success, and meets regional educational needs. UVU builds on a foundation of substantive scholarly and creative work to foster engaged learning. The university prepares professionally competent people of integrity who, as lifelong learners and leaders, serve as stewards of a globally interdependent community.


As a regional state university, Utah Valley University:

Provides quality academic learning opportunities for students through programs at the certificate, associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels. To encourage responsible citizenship, emphasis is placed on engaged teaching and learning as well as scholarly work, research, creative achievements, career and technical education, and community and professional engagement.

Provides access to higher education and offers a broad range of opportunities from developmental education through honors programs. The institution provides services designed to meet the educational and personal needs of students, to foster student success, to prepare students for meaningful lifework, and to provide access through a variety of modalities, including satellite campuses and the use of technology.

Promotes economic and cultural development to contribute to the quality of life of the region and state. The institution fosters economic development and provides a talent-force to meet the needs of a dynamic economy by offering credit and non-credit programs and services for individuals and organizations. UVU provides cultural experiences that enrich the community and offer significant and varied opportunities for continuous learning.

Learn more about the Utah Valley University here:


So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Utah Valley University, Dr. Dale Boam, and all his Deaf Studies Students!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 23, 2018.

Cap’s Off to You!-Western States Arts Federation and Celebrating Story

WESTAF-collageBefore Story Crossroads kicked off, the Western States Arts Federation had already impacted me on when I received a grant to attend the annual Arts Northwest Booking Conference along with a tandem storytelling partner, Holly Robison, to Eugene, Oregon.  WESTAF is one of the major partners of Arts Northwest.  We met a mentor in connection with this grant on how to build relationships with venue directors and fellow artists.  By recognizing WESTAF, we are also recognizing the National Endowment for the Arts provides the funds for the several grants to share with other arts groups.

WESTAF and NEA are praised nowadays for the three-time funding of Story Crossroads so we could bring out Christopher Agostino from New York (2016), Mara Menzies from Scotland  (2017), and Denise Valentine from Pennsylvania (2018) through the TourWest Grant.

Everyone in the office is so kind and supportive.  One year, I needed to convert a video into a certain format.  I thought I had done everything right to submit along with the grant.  I was mistaken and a lady at the office created a special note to the reviewers on how best to watch it.  Perhaps that was the year there was a new system for submitting grant applications online.  No matter the reason, I knew that was going above and beyond.  Then, to receive the grant itself despite my “technical difficulties” was a great boon.

WESTAF as an organization and as individuals celebrate diversity.  Story Crossroads and WESTAF have both enjoyed the amazing art that comes across cultures and generations.  We both aim to also see that diversity in the audience who comes.  WESTAF is aware of our efforts to build relations with the Blind and Deaf communities through audio descriptions and ASL interpretations.  We also have our posters and fliers in English and Spanish to reach out to the Hispanic populations in Salt Lake County and surrounding areas.


From the WESTAF website, here is a little more insight to their purpose and mission:

WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation) is a regional nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to strengthening the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the West. WESTAF assists state arts agencies, arts organizations, and artists in their quest to serve diverse audiences, enrich the lives of local communities, and provide access to the arts and arts education for all. Through innovative programming, advocacy, research, technology, and grantmaking, WESTAF encourages the creative advancement and preservation of the arts regionally and through a national network of customers and alliances.

Founded in 1974, WESTAF is located in Denver and governed by a 22-member board of trustees comprised of arts leaders in the West. WESTAF serves the largest constituent territory of the six U.S. regional arts organizations and includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Learn more about the Western States Arts Federation here:

You can see WESTAF’s Arts Northwest Booking Conference here:

Starting December 18, 2017, the WESTAF office is transitioning to a new location so we feel this is a timely shout-out for the new address will be:  1888 Sherman Street, Suite 375, Denver, CO 80203.

So toss, tip, or take off your cap to the Western States Arts Federation!

We also have year-round events such as the monthly house concerts and the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival that will be on May 23, 2018.