A group of storytelling guilds throughout Indiana aims to answer the question about the history of this oral tradition.
Storytelling Arts of Indiana is an organization composed of seven storytelling guilds across the state.
Doyne Carson, a storyteller for the Tippecanoe Storytellers’ Guild in Battle Ground, Ind., said many oral traditions were originally practiced to teach children right from wrong.
“Rather than saying, ‘Don’t leave our encampment at night,’ the Native Americans would tell stories to basically scare the bejeebers out of kids,” she said.
Carson has been telling stories since 1987 and said adults are her favorite age group because of their ability to reconnect with childhood folktale memories.
“And the little ones are always great,” she said. “They are kind of captured by it.”
Carson also explained that the subtle scare of a folktale or grim story is what appeals to listeners during the Halloween season.
“It’s a scare you’re getting from somebody that you know,” Carson said. “And it’s always fun to say you knew what was going to happen.”
Members of the Tippecanoe Storytellers’ Guild meet six times per year and sponsor the West Lafayette Annual Ghost Tales event.
On Friday, the annual Bloomington Festival of Ghost Stories took place in Bryan Park and was sponsored by the Bloomington Storytellers’ Guild.
The night of spooky tales included Jack-o’-Lanterns and hot apple cider for guests to enjoy while listening to the scary anecdotes.
The Bloomington Storytellers’ Guild established itself in Bloomington in 1974 and welcomes members of the public to join for a $10 membership fee.
The group meets once a month to discuss story ideas and plan upcoming events. The guild also sponsors a Wintertelling event every February.
Senior Chelsea Montgomery said she attended the Friday event to experience something new and different.
“I never had storytellers visit my schools when I was younger,” Montgomery said. “It’s really a cool thing to have in Bloomington because it’s something not many people do anymore. I feel like it’s a historic thing.”
Carson said she continues the tradition because of the effect her stories have on listeners.
“I went to the bank to a brand new teller, and she told me ‘You came to my class when I was in fourth grade,’ and I asked her how old she was,” Carson said. “She said she was 28. When you’re 28 remembering a fourth grade event it just kind of gives me shivers.”
Ghost story events brings vivid mental images to attendees as well.
“I like ghost stories. They scare me more than horror movies do,” Montgomery said. “They stick in my mind, and I can make up my own version of characters in my head.”
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