log church

Laurel Valley Community Church

Mountain Holler & Shout: Amateur Storytelling about the Mount Rogers High Country will be held at the log cabin church on May 12 beginning at 2:30 p.m.

The church is on Rt. 603 in Konnarock near Grindstone Campground. The event is free but donations will be accepted and used for repairs to the church. Music will be provided free of charge. Food and refreshments will be available, including hamburgers, hot dogs, homemade desserts and drinks.

Snakes in the outhouse and blood on Stone Mountain, hunting ginseng and ducking into the huckleberries to avoid Miss Lena and her pistol, cooking up polecat grease, building the log cabin church by hand and going face-to-gun with moonshiners on Little Wilson Creek are some of the true stories about the Mount Rogers High Country that listeners may hear at the storytelling.

Featured storytellers include Professor Benjamin Casteel, Darin Handy, Seth Walls, Brenda Shepherd, Ed Clayton, Deborah Partridge and Linda Organ. First-time storytellers are welcome to sign up in advance or on the spot for a five- or 10-minute slot.

The idea for an amateur storytelling hour started when Christine Parrish, a seasonal wilderness ranger who works for the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS), kept getting into conversations with locals who had lived, hunted, picked berries and raised families for the better part of the past century in and around the Mount Rogers High Country.

They told stories of a changing landscape as logged-off mountains grew back, villages that grew up during the logging boom were dismantled, wild ponies were introduced to keep some of the high country open and developers considered turning the area into a smaller version of Dollywood.

Dollywood didn’t happen, but change still came. Some of the high country is growing back to wilderness forest, some remains in pasture, all remains open to hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and horseback riding. But many of the old ways of living in the high country are going. The storytelling provides an opportunity to hear the tales from the people that lived them.

Parrish, on behalf of SAWS, and Brenda Shepherd, the overseer of the Laurel Valley Community

Church, a log cabin church built by hand in the 1940s with old-growth spruce logs cut from Mount Rogers and White Top Mountain, teamed up to host the free amateur storytelling at the church with the help of the Konnarock community and the Friends of Mount Rogers.

To sign up to tell a story contact Seth Walls 276-388-3145, SethWalls98@gmail.com or Brenda Shepard 276-388-3381, brenshep4@gmail.com.

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