Taneytown storyteller enhances tales with puppets, props


Joanne Hay is willing to travel any distance from her Harney Road home to share stories from folk tales of many cultures.

A storyteller, she is one of a vanishing breed that imparts folklore to new generations. Her skill lies in the dramatization of the tale, as she does not read from a book.

Instead, she memorizes the story and delivers it using visual aids -- puppets, masks, hats and other props that fill several boxes and shelves in a spare room of her home. She chooses items that will enhance a particular story.

Mrs. Hay tries to make the story appropriate to each audience, and with each retelling, she said, the tale becomes more her own.

She began her career in 1980 leading story time sessions for the Carroll County Library.

As a member of the Programming Department, she worked with pre-school and school-age children.

"It just kinda happened," she said of specializing in folk tales. "I just liked telling stories to children."

For the past eight years, Mrs. Hay has free-lanced her talents. She no longer works at the library full time. For the past 18 months, she has teamed up with Kit Bloom, another taleteller from the Finksburg area.

Their business is called Story Tellers. They perform together to tell the same story and each also performs solo.

The Story Tellers bring their show to local schools, senior centers, churches and social organizations. They perform locally and have traveled to the Eastern Shore and parts of Pennsylvania. Their sessions usually run 30 to 45 minutes.

During performances, the women wear hats or use puppets and props. Audience members are occasionally invited to supply chants the women use to emphasize the tale.

But there is more to their story.

Besides their own story telling sessions, the women also have joined forces with seven others to form the Storytellers Circle, which meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Library or at the Arts Council.

It is a private group with no outside sponsorship whose objective is to further an appreciation of storytelling. Its performances are free and open to the public.

Mrs. Hay said she is excited the group is blossoming, and new blood is always welcome.

The Storytellers Circle will perform from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 19 in the food court of the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers' Market in Westminster.The stories will be suitable for all ages.

More information: Joanne Hay, 751-1342.


County blood reserves are critically short.

A community blood drive will be held at the Union Bridge Community Center from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. The center is at 4770 Ladiesburg Road in Union Bridge. Information: 775-7150.


The Union Bridge Recreation Council is sponsoring low-impact aerobics and toning exercise classes.

The classes will begin next Thursday, Feb. 3, and will run every Monday and Thursday evening until April 28.

Classes will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Union Bridge Community Center, 4770 Ladiesburg Road.

Registration will be taken at the first class. Please bring a heavy blanket or an exercise mat to each class. Information: Sandy Grable, 775-2434.

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