FLORENCE — Shoals Storytelling Festival organizer, Debbie Chaffin, knew the 10th annual event needed to be spectacular, so she set out for an unequaled lineup of entertainment, which includes Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg.  The event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Unsure of the future of in-person events, the festival committee made the decision to go virtual this year, allowing registrants to view over an 11-day period starting May 21. 

“The committee was concerned about not having the festival two years in a row. So, we decided to make it virtual, but not the talking heads type event,” said Chaffin. 

Chaffin connected with the nationally renowned Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Utah, whose organizers agreed to help her create a professionally presented format which viewers can watch at their own leisure.

Jennifer Nelson, director of the Timpanogos Festival, said they held a virtual festival last September. 

“We were glad to work closely with the Shoals Festival. We wanted to support our national storytellers, so it’s been a win-win for everyone.”

The Shoals Festival’s lineup includes the dean of storytellers, Donald Davis, Alabama’s own Dolores Hydock, National Public Radio’s Kevin Kling, and festival newcomer Pippa White of Nebraska.

Holocaust survivor, Inge Auerbacher, will also be sharing from her speech from the United Nations with a documentary she helped produce. Bragg will be discussing his latest book, “Where I Come From.”

There will also be performances by Bobby Horton and Three on a String, as well as Norton Dill and the Dill Pickers.

The online festival includes more than 10 hours of entertainment and is available around the clock over the 11-day period.  

“There are bells and whistles to this festival that just really make it incredible,” Chaffin said. “We’re intent on having a high-quality program, and people won’t be disappointed.”

Tickets for the festival are $20 and are available online at Shoalsstorytelling.com.

There is a PayPal link and all major credit cards are accepted.