It was good to be together in Gatlinburg! The 356 participants enjoyed the hospitality of the Gatlinburg Convention Center and the good people of the greater Gatlinburg community. The Conference gave us opportunities to renew friendships, put faces to names we had only seen on emails, network together and make new friends.
Gatlinburg was a good site for the conference. An adequate supply of affordable rooms within walking distance of the Center was a big help, as were the nearby restaurants with their various menus and price ranges. Many of us wished that free parking would have been available. However, the economical trolley lines that ran throughout the day helped those who needed to get around on wheels.
The Conference was also an opportunity for many first-time and veteran attendees to tell stories in front of a large group of other storytellers. "Fringe" concerts were scheduled daily, and were well received. We held our first Story Slam which was enthusiastically received! Regional Concerts were a part of every day's agenda and allowed a lot of us from other places to appreciate the storytelling gifts and skills of many tellers from the Southeast Region!
A highlight for many folks was what became the final storytelling appearance of our beloved Doc McConnell who received a standing ovation when he took the stage and another one as he left. Many NSN members and others have contributed to memorial concerts in his honor since he passed away.
There were also many well-attended workshops, forums, and brain trusts relating to storytelling at all levels and ranging over a wide variety of topics. We are indebted to all those who prepared so well to lead our minds in new directions!
We are also indebted to the preparations made by the Planning Team, the NSN Staff, The NSN Board Members and many, many volunteers who helped make the whole event a successful contribution to the support and advocacy of the art form of storytelling.
Now, on to 2009, the Year of the Regions! And looking forward to 2010 to our next National Storytelling Conference--this time on the West Coast!