Robert B. Jones

The Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival returns to the Historic Grove Theater in Oak Ridge with nationally acclaimed storytellers on June 2 and June 3, Lyn Ford,  

Bil Lepp and Rev. Robert B. Jones. Well known to audiences throughout the country for their wit and wisdom, these three performers are guaranteed to make audiences laugh, cry and reminisce. The storytellers will perform different stories at each show both days. Two special workshops will be offered preceding the performances.

           The Friday, June 2 performance will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 3 features a special family show at 10 a.m., and shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children for each show, except for the June 3 Family Show at 10 a.m. Tickets for that show are $10 for adults and $5 for children. For the Flatwater Tales website, click here.

Lynn Ford

           Tickets are now on sale at Eventbrite or in person at The Ferrell Shop, 235 Jackson Square, Oak Ridge (cash or check only). Those interested in attending can take advantage of an early bird special and get a discount when they buy tickets for $25 per person for both the afternoon and evening shows on Saturday, June 3.

           The festival has received significant corporate sponsorship for 2023. CNS Y-12 is the Presenting Sponsor for the entire Festival. Pinnacle Bank is underwriting the Friday night performance by Rev. Robert Jones, “American History Through Music.” Other corporate sponsors are Oak Ridge Associated Universities, OneBank, TNBank and Chuck’s Car Care Oak Ridge.

Bil Lepp

           The Friday and Saturday evening shows include two specially themed programs. On Friday, June 2, Robert Jones will headline with a feature presentation, “American History Through Music.” On Saturday night, June 3, Bil Lepp will perform a special commissioned Oak Ridge-themed story, “I Guess Ol’ John Wasn’t Crazy After All: John Hendrix, the Prophet of Oak Ridge.”

           Rev. Robert Jones, Sr. is a native of Detroit and an inspirational storyteller and musician. He celebrates history, humor and the power of American Roots music. Whether he’s telling stories about growing up in his native Detroit, sharing tales about old blues musicians or inspirational stories drawn from history or scripture, Jones loves telling stories that reach both the mind and the heart. Jones links his stories with original and traditional songs that celebrate the history, humor and power of American Roots music. 

           Lyn Ford is a fourth generation, nationally recognized, Affrilachian (of African American heritage and history) storyteller. She is also a teaching artist, author and creative narrative workshop presenter. She has recorded award-winning CDs and was the first Ohio storyteller to be nominated for a Governor’s Arts Award. Her “Home-Fried Tales” are folktale adaptations, spooky tales, and original stories rooted in her family’s multicultural storytelling traditions.

           Bil Lepp, a five-time veteran of the Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival, is the star of the History Channel’s “Man vs. History.” An award-winning storyteller, author and recording artist, Bil’s humorous family-friendly tall tales and stories have earned him the appreciation of listeners of all ages from all walks of life. Though a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest, Lepp’s stories often contain morsels of truth which present universal themes in clever and witty ways. His 28 books and audio collections have won numerous awards.


           On Thursday, June 1, Lyn Ford will lead a workshop,“Collecting Family Stories: Gathering and Creating Spoken and Written Narratives” from 12:30 to 3:30 PM. How-to’s, resources, and down-to-earth tips are offered in a fast-paced and joy-filled session.

           On Friday, June2, Rev. Jones will lead a workshop for storytellers and musicians, “Celebrating Diversity: Using Music and Stories to Build Bridges” from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

            Both workshops will be held at the University of Tennessee Arboretum auditorium, 901 S. Illinois Ave., Oak Ridge. Each workshop is $50 per person. Please register on Eventbrite for these workshops.

Oak Ridge Driving Tour

           As a special, free feature of the festival, Oak Ridge City Historian Ray Smith will again offer a driving tour of Oak Ridge at 1 p.m. Friday, June 2, beginning and ending at the Grove Theater parking lot. Please register on Eventbrite for this free tour. The tour will include a visit to John Hendrix’s grave and stops at The Alexander Guest House lobby, the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell, the Secret City Commemorative Walk, and the Scarboro Community Center. Driving portions of the tour will feature Jackson Square and the east portion of the Oak Ridge Historic District.

           The Flatwater Tales Storytelling Festival is led by volunteers from all three Oak Ridge Rotary Clubs.

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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