Hundreds come out to River Campus for ghost stories

Sunday, October 17, 2010
Storyteller Jennifer Armstrong, left, plays her fiddle while sign language interpreter Jessica Lagona, right, signs during the Ghost Storytelling Festival held on the east lawn of Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus in Cape Girardeau on Friday. (CHRIS MACKLER)

Families bundled under blankets beneath the old beech tree on the River Campus lawn Friday night listening to spooky stories.

Michael Reno Harrell of North Carolina and Jennifer Armstrong of Maine told tales of haunted houses, moaning trees, creaky gates and Appalachian witch doctors to about 650 people at the third annual Ghost Storytelling event, sponsored by the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau. The number attending was twice as many as last year, according to the bureau.

"A good scary story has to have suspense, and it needs to be told in the dark," Harrell said.

Sign language interpreter Jessica Lagona signs during the Ghost Storytelling Festival held near the Old Beech Tree on the east lawn of Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus in Cape Girardeau on Friday, Oct. 15, 2010. (Chris Mackler)

The chilly air, the Mississippi River and the candlelit pathways all added to the atmosphere Friday night.

"This is just the perfect time of year for ghost stories," said Jenny Hamby of Cape Girardeau. "One of the speakers came to my son's school, and he fell in love with him and said we had to come."

Harrell and Armstrong performed at Cape Girardeau elementary schools Thursday and Friday, giving students a hint of what was to come on Friday night.

The two storytellers mixed musical performances into their stories, playing the bagpipes, fiddle and guitar.

Armstrong's parents were folk singers, and she started playing the fiddle at age 8 and then learned the bagpipes at age 13. Today she plays seven instruments.

"I'm a musician first," said Armstrong, although she's been telling stories for 25 years.

Harrell, who played the guitar during his performances, said he also started out as a musician.

"I started writing songs, and when I would perform, I'd tell the story behind the song," Harrell said. "The stories kept getting longer, but the songs stayed the same and people started telling me: You're a storyteller."

For the first time this year, a sign language interpreter was provided by SADI to translate the ghost stories for the deaf.

The Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau will host its annual Storytelling Festival April 8 to 11.

"Providing seasonal events like ghost storytelling offers the local community the chance to continue the spirit of the festival year-round," said Stephanie Lynch, director of public relations and marketing.


Pertinent address:

518 S. Fountain St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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