AMERICAN FORK — Public speaking may be scary for most people, but the three children of Lane and Patty Taylor aren't afraid.

They relish the opportunity.

In fact, the bigger the crowd, the better.

"I get a little nervous for them," said Patty Taylor, the mother of 8-year-old Matthew, 9-year-old Emily and 12-year-old Aubrey, all of whom will tell stories at the annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

"I think the best part is that you get such a big audience," said Aubrey Taylor. "I usually just practice a lot (so I don't get scared)."

Aubrey's been telling tales on the stage since the second grade. Her sister has joined her the past two years, and Matthew has told stories at the festival for three years.

Little sister Brynna, who is 4, can't wait for her turn. She's already telling stories to anyone who'll listen at every opportunity.

"If I'm nervous, I just talk louder!" said Matthew Taylor, who is telling a story this year about being chased by "The Tominator," a big turkey he's supposed to bring in for dinner.

"Matthew has always written stories," said his mother. "And we have a lot of books. We always read."

The storytelling started with Aubrey when she told a story at school and won the opportunity to tell at the festival.

"We really didn't know, before that that there was a festival," said Patty Taylor. "It's really helped her come out, gain confidence."

"I just have fun with it," Aubrey said. "The secret is to choose a good story and use your energy."

All of the children use gestures, great facial expression and a variety of voices to tell their stories.

In Matthew's tale, he works his small arms up and down as he runs in place up to 1,000 miles an hour to get away from the Tominator. He gobbles. He grins. He entertains.

In her story about Molly Lou Melon, Emily adopts the perfect grandma voice as the heroine is advised to simply believe in herself.

Aubrey deals with "the terrible tattletale," otherwise known as her little brother, dances a bit and sings in her story "Love Conquers All."

The festival this year features not only young storytellers from schools across Utah County but adult storytelling favorites.

Donald Davis, a favorite at the festival for several years, returns to share his true-to-life stories of childhood neighbors and kin of the North Carolina mountains.

The roster of national storytellers also includes Patrick Ball, Mitch Capel, Charlie Chin, Elizabeth Ellis, Beth Horner, Dan Keding, Bobby Norfolk, Carol Russell, and the Storycrafters: Barry Marshall and Jeri Burns.


Local youth storytellers:

Eric Babb

Marley, Mason, Caden, and Aubrey Watts

Alex Bowcutt

Devri and Dallin Wootten

Devin and Dylan Glenn

Local adult Storytellers:

Wendy Gourley

Cherie Davis

Steffani Raff

Performers & puppeteers:

Jugglenutz, Brent Jensen & Mark Nelson

Maxxed Out Puppetry, Jonathan Wilson

Dr. Bruce Chamberlain (storyteller and puppeteer)