Tall tales will be told in Port St. Joe.

Tall tales will be told in Port St. Joe.

The third annual Shells and Tales storytelling event will be held over the next two weekends, bringing locals and professionals together for the best stories this side of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Liar’s Challenge will mark the start of the festivities from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 21 at the Thirsty Goat inside the Port Inn.

This year’s theme will be “Fish Tale” and participants should bring their best fish stories to share with the crowd. While they don’t have to be true, the tales should be tall.

Cash prizes will be given away to first through third place winners and the event is open to the public.

The following weekend at 6 p.m. ET on Feb. 28, the wine and cheese and Grownup Stories event will be held at Gulf Coast State College Gulf/Franklin campus and will showcase professional storytellers Bob Patterson from St. Augustine, Pat Nease from Panama City and Robyn Rennick from Tallahassee in a fun, relaxed environment.

Bob Patterson is a professional singer, songwriter and storyteller with over 50 years of experience performing at clubs, festivals, and on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs. It will be Patterson’s first time showcasing at the Shells and Tales event.

“Storytelling events are going through a cultural rebirth,” said Patterson. “They’re an alternative to television and have a high entertainment value.”

Patterson, who learned from folk greats like Gamble Rogers and Pete Seeger, described his stories as “environmentally oriented” and said his stories are often a love letter to Florida itself.

“I’m creating stories to help people reconnect with Florida, and hopefully treat it more kindly,” said Patterson. “As a singer-songwriter, I told stories as introductions to my songs, but I quickly realized that the stories could stand by themselves.”

Also appearing at the wine and cheese event will be Chasity Finch, winner of the fourth-grade storytelling competition at Port St. Joe Elementary school. Finch will perform her winning original story that won over judges from the Lion’s Club and the Coastal Community Association.

Light appetizers and wine will be provided and tickets are $20 in advance, $35 for couples and $25 at the door.

The annual storytelling basics workshop will be held from 10 a.m. until noon ET on Saturday, March 1 at GCSC. The two-hour workshop will pair attendees with professional storytellers to learn how to take everyday stories to the next level.

The workshop will be split into two parts: the first, hosted by Rennick, will focus on telling historical and biblical stories. The second part, “Finding Your Own Story,” will be hosted by Nease.

Nease’s workshop will show attendees how to spin their own tales, using games, memories and experiences to find great material.

“I explain what I do, how I do it, and the art behind it, and then I show attendees how they can do the same thing,” said Nease.

The workshop is geared toward teachers, preachers, politicians, business leaders, family historians and other public speakers. Nease said that the workshop will benefit anyone who wants to artfully share a story whether for fun or as part of their profession and has had everyone from attorneys to car salesman attend her workshops and take something useful from it.

Nease said, “There’s such a range of people and professions who employ storytelling skills, even if they may not realize it.”

Nease will play emcee for the Liar’s Challenge and said she was excited by the interest in the event. She regularly travels throughout Florida and nearby states, but said she was glad that storytelling events were finding their way closer to home.

“I’m delighted to have these events going on in the panhandle,” she said. “We’re building a storytelling base here and they’re fun, wonderful festivals.

“I love what I’m doing and I want people to find the same joy I do.”

The cost for the workshop is $20 per ticket or $10 for current GCSC students.

Tickets for the workshop and wine and cheese events can be purchased at the No Name Café, the Gulf Coast State College Administration Building or by calling 229-7799.