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Tell me a story: Farm By The Lake hosts second annual Storytellers series

BAGLEY—Over the course of six weeks, patrons of the Bagley Public library will be able to find a slightly different collection of stories other than those that fill the pages on the shelves.

For the second year, Farm By The Lake will bring a variety of speakers to the area for its "Storytellers" series. Unlike the inaugural round, this year's event will be held at the library after it already outgrew its former location during the first year.

"We started it last year with absolutely no idea how it would come across in a small community like this, but people loved it," said Dawn Loeffler, Farm By The Lake executive director.

The lineup includes six storytellers, none of whom are a repeat of last year's group. The artists include "slam storyteller" Ward Rubrecht on Jan. 14, local storyteller Dick Roue on Jan. 28, comic storyteller Michael Venske on Feb. 11, naturalist storyteller Al Batt on Feb. 25, interactive storyteller Nothando Zulu on March 11, and a writing workshop with local author Will Weaver on March 25.

The events are free and open to the public.

Looking back, Loeffler said they'd been contemplating the idea of the Storytellers series for a few years before they actually got off the ground. She said they decided to get the project up and running after attending a similar event in Park Rapids.

"Storytelling is a wonderful, wonderful art, but it's a very limited art that only a few people are doing," Loeffler said. "We went to the Great American Storytelling contest that Park Rapids puts on, and that's when I said, 'We're doing this.'"

As the series unfolded last year, listeners came from about 20 different communities to hear the various storytellers speak, traveling from as far away at Park Rapids and Duluth. The storytellers themselves also come from a variety of locals.

In addition to a new handful of storytellers, this year's series also will represent some new genres. For example, this will be the first time they've hosted a slam storyteller. The interactive storyteller is also a slightly new genre.

Because of the different genres of storytellers that came throughout the series, there were a slight variety in the attendees for the various classes, as well.

"The audience changes with the performers," Loeffler said. "Sometimes it was an older crowd, and sometimes we had teenagers."

Regardless of who was in the audience, though, they all crowded into the caretakers home at Farm By The Lake. Sometimes wildlife would walk by the window. The storytellers could sit right among those who had come to listen.

With around 50 people attending for one of the events, the organizers decided to move the program to the library. And though moving to a slightly larger setting, the goal is to maintain that close-knit setting that existed last year. That was a feature that both the storytellers and the audience clung to throughout the project, and it's something they plan to continue.

"It pretty much encompassed our living room and our dining room," Loeffler said about the first year's program. "It was very personal. They could ask questions; they got personal stories; it was a very intimate setting; we plan on keeping that."

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