MCC’s 19th annual KC storytelling festival Nov. 7-10 at various venues

They can be inspiring, funny and even scary — but the stories shared at Metropolitan Community College’s annual Kansas City Storytelling Celebration are always entertaining.

This year’s event, the 19th, runs Nov. 7-10. It features several guest storytellers from around the country and a variety of events across Greater Kansas City. The featured storytellers are Jasmin Cardenas, Bil Lepp, Tim Lowry and Donna Washington. Along with performing, they will also hold storytelling workshops at local libraries.

Washington will take part in two storytelling workshops at MCC on Thursday, Nov. 8.  The first is at MCC-Maple Woods Campus Center 110, from 11 a.m. to noon. The second is at MCC-Penn Valley Education Center 007 from 2 to 3 p.m.

The more than 50 storytelling events will be held at locations including schools, retirement and assisted living facilities, and even a prison. Many events are free.

Some of the main events include:

  • KC Storytelling Celebration Kickoff Nov. 7 at MCC-Maple Woods Student Center. Steve Otto, one of the event’s founders, will be honored during the opening night kickoff. It’s at 6:30 p.m. and is free to all MCC employees. If you plan to attend, you are asked to RSVP.
  • Day of the Dead: Story Time for Preschoolers at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1-1:20 p.m. and 2:30-2:50 p.m. Nov. 4.
  • Scary and Not So Scary Tales by Cardenas, Lepp, Lowry and Washington at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 7 p.m. Nov. 9.
  • Storytelling Spectacular, which includes stories by Cardenas, Lepp, Lowry and Washington at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 7 p.m. Nov. 10.

A full schedule of events can be found at

“Ultimately, the spoken word is the outward flow of the soul,” says MCC-Maple Woods’ Adam Kisler, Storytelling Celebration organizer.

Representatives of the Storytelling Celebration appeared on KSHB’s KC Live on Nov. 7. To watch the report in its entirety, click here.

Kisler says storytelling is more than entertainment. It can also give people tools to better verbally communicate in today’s world, where a lot of interaction is on cellphone screens.

“Oral storytelling requires eye contact, facial expression, vocal expression, body language and interpretation that can benefit any communication need,” Kisler says.

He says storytelling can also help stimulate the brain by forcing the listener to paint a picture of what they hear in their mind. “Studies have shown that when an individual has to create their own image in the mind, their brain is stimulated and will actually grow creatively stronger.”

If you are inspired to become a storyteller  yourself, or just want to improve your communication skills, MCC has partnered with Mid-Continent Public Library’s Story Center to create certificate programs in both oral and written storytelling.

“These are a series of free training opportunities that give tools and resources to better equip the skills of our community, bring a voice to our community, and to raise up the next generation of storytellers from our community,” Kisler says.