21st Annual ‘Storyfest’ celebration is a big success for students

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The annual ‘Storyfest’ program for Switzerland County elementary school children was a big success last week, as students attended performances at three different venues on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday saw sunny skies and warm temperatures, but that didn’t deter students in the first, second, and third grades from county elementary schools from enjoying the day.

Students were divided into three groups, with one group at the Switzerland County Historical Museum, where they hear master storyteller Lou Ann Homan. She tells the students that she is a ‘dreamer of dreams’, and then takes them along on the journey.

Another group of students was at the Historic Hoosier Theater, where the Frisch Marionettes presented a variety show with music and comedy routines. No strangers to the Switzerland County community, the Frisch Marionettes continued its string of impressive performances – even featuring a marionette operating a smaller marionette.

The final stop was the gym of the Switzerland County YMCA, where ‘Steel Away’, a Calypso and Reggae band, performed for the students, interacting with them and providing plenty of room for movement and dancing.

On Friday, students in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades attended the program, with the only change from the day before being at the Historic Hoosier Theater.

Friday saw performances there by the Reen Family Singers, a group of 11 family members who sang and played a wide range of instruments.

Overall, both days were a big success.

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Coordinator Martha Bladen said that the program, which seeks to not only entertain children but – more importantly – educate students on the many ways that stories and information can be shared; could cease after this year because funding from various organizations around the county has decreased.

Storyfest stimulates learning by providing rich first-hand experiences near the beginning of the school year that students and teachers can reflect on and create from throughout the year. It provides an opportunity for participants to visit cultural sites in our home community and experience live entertainment.

The Switzerland County Historical Society is the Storyfest organizer, with the Hoosier Theater being a strong supporter and participant. Due to the geographic location and socio-economic situations in the county, many of Switzerland County’s youth have limited exposure to cultural arts events. Storyfest varies programming each year to provide a wide range of cultural experiences throughout a child’s education within the county. No other program within Switzerland County provides such a service.

Funding for this year’s Storyfest program was provided by the Vevay Kiwanis Club; the Women’s Giving Circle; and also from an anonymous donor. The program also received a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission.