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Librarian heads west for storyteller festival
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A Dawson County librarian recently had the chance to "spin a good yarn" and weave some tall tales out west.

Tracy Walker, who has worked at the Dawson County Library for nine years and been a Dawson County resident for one year, has once again put on her story-tellers hat - this time to head west.

Walker, who was named the Biggest Fibber during the 239th Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival in Rome last March, had the chance to attend the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Orem, Utah.

A 26-year tradition, the festival features some of the best storytellers from around the world. This year's group featured Grammy and Emmy Award winners and entertainers who have performed on some of the world's most prestigious stages including the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, World's Fair and British National Theatre.

"Every year in September, the festival brings about 30,000 from around the country," Walker said. "The festival is, for the west coast, what the national storytelling festival in Tennessee is for the east coast. It's one of the two biggest storytelling festivals in the country."

Walker won the opportunity to tell her stories through a newcomers contest.

"This year, the festival had something called ‘Temp Tales' where they highlight what they call new voices, folks that haven't told there before," she said. "They invited five new people to tell stories and the winner got to share the stage with Donald Davis, a really well-known story teller."

Walker sent several references and story recordings to the festival before she was selected to come to Utah to compete against the other four.

"I was very lucky to get to tell with Donald," she said. "It was a treat and an honor. Donald has been telling for about 30 years now."

While on stage, Walker told the story that won her the chance to perform.

"I told my story about an ill-fated road trip with my grandparents, as well as a folk tale," she said.

Walker told her story to a tent-full of people, nearly 12,000 in attendance.

"That was the first time I have told in that kind of setting. It was exciting and nerve wracking," she said. "It was truly exciting and a little bit overwhelming, but I am so grateful to have that experience."

Walker said that the storytellers have their own "code" when it comes to swapping stories.

"The vast majority of what was told in Utah was personal stories," she said. "Personal stories are the property of the tellers. It was a treat to get to hear lots of personal stories, but you never take those."

Walker can next be heard at the library's campfire concert at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10.