30 Years of Storytelling

30th Anniversary Proclamation, March 20, 2023




Tale Tellers of St. Augustine
 Anniversary Retrospective
By Sharon Sappington, Memory Keeper, 2023

          The Tale Tellers has its origins in 1990 joined when a small group of enthusiasts joined with Gamble Rogers, prominent storyteller, and musician, to organize the St. Augustine Storytelling Festival. This intrepid group, of whom no one had ever told a story, kept the dream alive after Gambles’ death.

          As a professional collective of storytellers, we performed in groups of various sizes, as well as individuals. We sought opportunities to bring the ancient art of storytelling to as many people as possible.

          All over town and all around we have strolled and told. At churches, the Lighthouse, schools, retirement homes, parks, and coffee houses.

        The Limelight Theater is a prestigious venue, inviting the community to a personal performance for front row seats. Here we present a professional series called “Theater of the Mind” among many other outstanding programs. More recently, The Waterworks provided another inviting venue for storytelling.

          Tandem telling, stories with music and song, guitar, banjo, rain stick, and flute sometimes appeared. <ay things made our stories unique.

          One of these was “The Magic Box Theater.” As performance artists we donned our costumes and told in the town square on the infamous St George Street.

          Yet another unique connection was found through our Flagler radio program “A Treasury of Stories.” For thirty minutes we joined you in your living room and touched your heart…or may your funny bone.

        St. Augustine has a storied past of history, ghosts, and mystery. Celebrating these programs of Romanza, Historical Society, Night Watch, the Lighthouse, and the Fort. These were carefully researched programs such as:

“Women South of the Plaza”

“Holding Down the Homefront: Shortages, Submarines, Saboteurs, and War Bonds”

“English Pirates, Spanish Dons, and Florida Crackers”

          How did you know where to go? Our clever wordsmith provided the public with posters, notifications, printed programs, and even e-mails. A website was created and maintained. We were featured in The St Augustine Record, The Compass, and The Entertainer.

          Our guild is part of the Florida Storytelling Association where we take part in the annual Story Fest. We have been featured tellers, board members, workshop leaders, and past presidents.

          We guided the city commission in mandating “St Johns County Storytelling Day,” as well as “Storytelling in the Schools.”

          Children were also mentored in storytelling such as “Youthful Voices” at Florida Story Fest. Many of our programs and workshops were designed specifically for young people, such as Washington Oaks Literary Day, Earth Day, and Kid’s Ocean Day. Some of these were made possible from grants such as: The St. Johns Cultural Council, The Florida Humanities Council, and the prestigious Crisp-Ellert Grant.

          The Tale Tellers were widely known for developing and participating in story events which benefitted those in need. Among those helped were Sertoma, the Heart Association, the United Way, the Saint Francis House, and the Food Pantry.

          Halloween was our time to shine. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” became a favorite of both tellers and listeners. Venues have included Colonial Village, the Agricultural Museum, Limelight Theater, Flagler Library, the beach, parks, and more.

          Our guild was invited to the Florida Folk Festival in 1994, the first and only guild to have been given this honor. We have participated ever since. Many of us stayed together at a nearby cabin and created memories of steaks, watermelon, and Scrabble…weekends of “friends friending.”

          Don’t you wish you had been there? Our programs have showcased the diversity of the stories as well as the tellers. Yet a few of the memorable were:

“A Passel of Pirates”

“Blarney Stones, Banshee Tones, Irish Bones”

“Legends and Lore of the St Johns River”

“Saints, Scoundrels, and Scalawags”

          There’s always room for a story that can transport people to other places. As so, we have told around the world and back again: England, Ireland, the Orient Express, Istanbul, Mongolia, and Marrakesh.

          Tellabration is the international celebration of storytelling. Thousands around the world gather in small towns and big cities celebrating the oral traditions worldwide. We have observed this tradition in private homes, and outside by the firepit and night blooming jasmine.

          We have performed in costume, in re-enactments, with music and song, indoors and outdoors, on trains, planes and sailing ships. We created opportunities where none had existed.

          Many of the finest storytellers in Florida call The Taletellers of St. Augustine their “storytelling home.”

25th Anniversary Celebrations

Tale Tellers of St. Augustine receiving 25th Anniversary Proclamation from the City of St. Augustine Commissioners.

Tale Tellers of St. Augustine receiving 25th Anniversary Proclamation from St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners.



In the name of storytelling
Tuesday, November 13
Is hereby proclaimed to be
The Worldwide Event of Storytelling.

Across six continents
In 40 states
And nine countries
From Saint Augustine to Sacramento
Boise to Barcelona
West Virginia to West Indies
Albuquerque to Asheville
Over 300 audiences are gathered for
This spectacular storytelling event!

 Without further delay,
In joy and anticipation…

Let the stories begin!

Our history of Board President leadership –
30 Years Strong

Kathy Kniery - 2024
Kathy Kniery and Kathy Duffy – co-presidents – 2023
Margaret Kaler and Natalie Beltrami – co-presidents – 2022
Debra Weller – 2020 – 2021
Sallie O’Hara – 2018 – 2019
Kathy Duffy – 2017
Rita Saker – 2016
Joyce Sabato – 2014 – 2016
Margaret Kaler – 2012 – 2013
Chris Kastle – 2010 – 2011
Bob and Donna Stephens, Co-Presidents – 2010
Shirley Bryce – 2008 – 2009
Betty Fell – 2000 – 2005 – 2006 – 2007
Sharon Sappington – 2003 – 2004
Rita Saker – 2001 -2002
Frances Lipson – 1998 – 1999
Nancy Thelen – 1996 – 1997
Sandra Rodrigues – 1993 – 1994 -1995

With fond memories we remember our Tale Tellers of recent times past.

In Memorium


Betty Fell

October 9, 1926 - May 4, 2024

Eve Bates
George Bennis
Shirley Bryce
Shirley Chartrand-Prebor
Joe Fell
Terri McConnell
Gail Pflaster
Colonel Mary Jane Harris, USMC

“MJ” performed story at the Flagler County Library summer “Memories” program.