The upcoming “Story Share” will feature five families in the North Fork and highlights a collaborative effort between community members, talented storytellers, visual artists, writers, and improv theater all working to bring a local family’s story and history to life.

The much anticipated “Story Share” event sponsored by the Blue Sage Center for The Arts will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 26, in Paonia Town Park. Cost for the event is $20 for adults; $5 for kids and free to persons over the age of 60.

The main event features personal stories and histories of community members Betty Lou Mueller (Berg Family), Kevin Parks, Joanne Peterson (Hotchkiss Family), Mark Roeber, and Marjorie True (Hotchkiss Family). These stories demonstrate how their families have survived in the North Fork for generations.

“This four-way exchange brings each story to life through the arts. The metamorphosis begins when a community member shares the story of their family’s history here in the North Fork,” said Debra Muzikar, Blue Sage Center for the Arts executive director.

According to Muzikar, the creativity starts with different community populations and different art forms beginning with a writer who takes the original story and transforms it into a work of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or lyrics for a song. Next a visual artist paints an image or takes a photo inspired by the original story and finally the story is interpreted through an improv theatre performance.

The entire program culminates with the special community event on June 26 with the special outdoor event showcasing the five stories sponsored by the Blue Sage Center for the Arts. The artwork will be on display, the original story will be shared by audio/video, five students and five adult writers will tell their stories and then Playback Theatre will do an improv with their interpretation.

Muzikar said student writers who will be sharing their creative interpretation of the story are from Delta Middle School and Vision Charter Academy including Alex Kirstatter, Rikku Lage, Sienna Reese, Mara Fancher, and Keyin Barthelmas-Rundberg.

“The students published a book with their stories and art work which was made possible with grant money from the Kempe Foundation and the Sheila Fortune Foundation. The book will be for sale for $10 at the event and in the Blue Sage Gallery,” she said.

The adult writers participating in the event are Dan Chrisholm, Carol Kwatoswski, Tara Miller, Anthony Roeber, and Ellen Stapenhorst. The artists whose art inspired from the local stories are Nicole Edwards, Justin Hess, Sharon Kime, Shannon Richardson, and Jamie Roeber. All art work will be on display in Paonia Town Park the day of the event and will be for sale.

“This project’s goal is to bring various segments of the community together through the power of story. As part of the Smithsonian exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” we hope to help build a bridge between local factions and age groups,” said Muzikar. “If we once thought we had little in common, ‘Story Share’ will illuminate how so many of us share similar stories or can relate to the stories of others, illustrating that a community needs all kinds of people to thrive and grow.”

‘Story Share’ was made possible by the support of The Kampe Foundation, Nextfifty Foundation, West Elk Community Fund, and the Sheila Fortune Foundation.

Because of the overwhelming interest, the program is being expanded into other communities in Delta County. Individuals with family or family members who have been able to live in the Delta County community for generations or know someone who has are asked to contact the Blue Sage Center for the Arts at 970-527-7243 or The Smithsonian Exhibit “Crossroad: Change in Rural America.”

The “Crossroad: Change in Rural America” originally scheduled for January 2021 has been postponed and is currently being rescheduled according to Mazirak.

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