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Four vying for Great American Storyteller crown

The audience chose Anne Dunn as the 2016 Great American Story contest winner. (Submitted photo)

Last spring, Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (PRLAAC) issued a call to Minnesota storytellers to submit a 10-minute, recorded story for competition.

Storytellers responded, judges selected the top four, and those finalists will travel to Park Rapids to determine who wears the Great American Storyteller crown.

And who walks away with $1,000.

The live performance is scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 at Calvary Lutheran Church.

The finalists are Steve Maanum of Park Rapids, Emily Mathew of Bemidji, Carol McCormick-Buchmeier of Plymouth and Jan Smith of Clitherall.

The four will tell their winning stories, and the audience will vote for the top two. Those two will be given a prompt and tell an impromptu,10-minute story. The audience votes again, and the winner gets the crown and the prize money.

Bruce Bolton, founder, owner and artistic/managing director of Long Lake Theater, will emcee the event.

Guest storyteller will be Richard W. Rousseau, an active participant in the Midwest performance community for more than 50 years as an actor, director, playwright and storyteller. He is a mainstay of this region's storytelling community and presently serves as the Minnesota liaison to the National Storytelling Network.

"We scheduled the inaugural Great American Story for the weekend of Park Rapids Art Leap," says Paul Dove, PRLAAC chair. "After a day of enjoying 14 studios, an art center, a winery and the sculpture tour, we wanted an event where locals and visitors could sit, relax and listen to a good yarn, told by amateur and professional storytellers."

The winner receives $1,000. First runner-up receives $500 and the other two receive $250.

"We acknowledge and thank local and regional businesses and organizations who donated to the Great American Story," says LuAnn Hurd-Lof. "Their support and a grant from Region 2 Arts Council made this event possible. We hope this event supports our determination to make Park Rapids an interesting place to live and an entertainment and cultural destination."

Advance tickets at $10 per person (children 12 and under free) will be available soon at Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery and the Chamber Visitor Center. Tickets also will be available the evening of the event.

For more information on the Great American Story, go to the website

This activity is sponsored by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council with funding provided, in part, by a Region 2 Arts Council Grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008.