Performers, Storytellers, Musicians, Authors

February 2 – 4, 2024

Carl Hiaasen

Headliner

The Art of Storytelling

Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 pm

Spend an evening with the person Dave Barry calls “one of South Florida’s most vital natural resources.” Listening to Carl Hiaasen’s powerful convictions about society and the environment, or stories about writing the characters in his bestselling novels, creates an entertaining and utterly hilarious evening.

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida. He has published eleven national bestsellers, including Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, Nature Girl, Star Island, Bad Monkey, Razor Girl, Squeeze Meand his latest, Wrecker. Hiaasen has also written several popular novels for young readers: His first, Hoot, won a Newbery Honor and was made into a feature film starring Brie Larson, Luke Wilson, and Logan Lerman. 

Together, Hiaasen’s books have been published in 34 languages. His nonfiction work has appeared in many magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Time, and Esquire. Hiaasen began writing a regular column for The Miami Herald in 1985, covering everything from local issues like polluted rivers, the criminal justice system, and animal welfare, to national stories like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Trayvon Martin case, Bernie Madoff’s trial, and Florida’s presidential election woes. He has received numerous honors for his incisive journalism and commentary, including three Pulitzer Prize nominations, the Damon Runyon Award from the Denver Press Club, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

leaves iconVisit Carl’s website.

Meet the Performers

Sarah Ammar

Island of Stories & Book-signing

Saturday, February 3 at 3 pm

Sarah Ammar is the founder of Rebelle Creative Strategies, a training consultancy that helps clients apply the art (and science) of improvisation to their work

Sarah has been a strategic communications professional for more than 15 years and has performed comedic improv on stage for over a decade. Sarah has performed live and unscripted to sold-out audiences in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and elsewhere.

leaves iconVisit her website to read about her business, Rebelle Creative Strategies, an event sponsor

Dickie Anderson

Island of Stories & Book-signing

Saturday, February 3 at 3 pm

Dickie Anderson, freelance writer, artist, and community volunteer brings her love of Amelia Island to all she does.

 A trained docent at the Amelia Island Museum of History, she authored Great Homes & Churches of Amelia Island. Her weekly column, From the Porch, appears in the Fernandina Beach News Leader. Her articles appear in regional publications and the Amelia Islander magazine. She has been awarded the Golden Palm Award three times by the Florida Writer’s Association, has been a featured author at the Amelia Island Book Festival, and is the book festival’s past Executive Director. She was named Humor Writer of the Month by Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop.

Berta Arias

Island of Stories & Book-signing

Saturday, February 3 at 3 pm

Berta was born in Havana, Cuba, and emigrated with her parents and sister to Chicago, IL.

Berta looks forward to completing her Mango Rain Trilogy in 2024. In retirement on Amelia Island, Berta is deeply involved with the island’s various organizations in the arts, history, and conservation and is excited about being part of the future of the American Beach community. Berta retired as Professor Emerita in Critical Languages and International Education but has always considered herself at her core a writer.

leaves iconVisit her website to read about her novel, her short stories, her collaboration on the Spanish version of Constitutional Soundbites, and more. 

Sam Cobean

The Art of Storytelling

Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 pm

Lunch with Storytellers

Sunday, February 4 at 12:30 pm

Sam is an actor, improviser, and musician, despite having a degree in creative writing.

Sam Cobean has been described as a “real desert fish” after being transplanted to the South from NM. Sam hangs around storytelling festivals in an effort to justify paying off the student loans from said degree. He most recently appeared as Truman Capote in the one-man show, “Tru,” performed at Story & Song.

Beverly Davis

Island of Stories & Book-signing

Saturday, February 3 at 3 pm

A published poet and essayist, Beverly has served as a Poetry Editor of Sojourner in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also as an Urban Arts Poet-in-Residence in Boston.

Beverly Smith Davis was the first and only teacher of color hired in Hopkins School District #287 outside of Minneapolis. In 1976 she began teaching English at Brookline High School.   Currently, she sits on three boards: two connected to American Beach and the third the Board of Alumni of Truman State University. A member of A.L. Lewis Museum and Amelia Island Museum of History, she volunteers at the former monthly and twice a week at America’s Youth. 

Marsha Dean Phelts

Island of Stories & Book-signing

Saturday, February 3 at 3 pm

Marsha Dean Phelts is a fifth generation Floridian, having spent her life in Jacksonville and American Beach.

Marsha enjoyed a rewarding career as a librarian and has been dedicated to community service with a lifetime of involvement in local, state, national, and international organizations. Settling in the fourth quarter of her life, she is active with Jacksonville Sister Cities Association/Nelson Mandela Bay Committee and is chair of the Library Project. With support from local authors, book stores, and area publishers, more than 10,000 books and materials have been donated to Sister Cities libraries in South Africa, China, South Korea, Jamaica, Haiti and Brazil.

Diane Johnson

Tea & Tales with Harriett Tubman

Friday, February 2 at 3 pm

Diane Ford-Holt Johnson has been a freelance performer, presenter, and group facilitator more than 30 years.

A proud member of the Peck Community Ensemble and the NATROM Band, she has appeared in churches, community and civic centers, elementary schools, and public libraries throughout Northeast and Central Florida. She is a retired public library manager and a passionate church and community servant. Johnson is married to Derryl, and together they share six adult children and three grandchildren.  

MIchael Reno Harrell

Musician Storytellers

Friday, February 2 at 7:30 pm

The Art of Storytelling

Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 pm

Lunch with Storytellers

Sunday, February 4 at 12:30 pm

“Michael Reno Harrell is one of those natural born Southern musicians and storytellers who is filled with wit, charm and surprises.” David Holt, 4-time Grammy Winner.

Michael Reno Harrell’s natural knack for storytelling comes as a direct result of where he is from, the Southern Appalachian Mountains where storytelling is as much a part of the culture as its music. His original stories and songs intertwine seamlessly into narratives that demonstrate that we all share common emotions and experiences and that nothing brings us together like a good laugh or a touch of nostalgia.

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Visit Michael’s website to read more about his storytelling adventures, see some of his artwork and more.

Jarrett Hill

Island of Stories & Book-signing

Saturday, February 3 at 3 pm

Jarrett Hill is the Curator at the Amelia Island Museum of History.

Jarrett has been a museum storyteller since he led his first tour in Orlando a decade ago and continues to bring artifacts, research, and performance together to create engaging museum experiences for all ages.

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Read more about the Amelia Island Museum of History here.

Chip Kirkpatrick

Island of Stories & Book-signing

Saturday, February 3 at 3 pm

Chip Kirkpatrick is a life-long resident of NE Florida. He does historical metal detecting in the area, offering his finds to schools, museums, and libraries and serves as a docent at the Amelia Island Museum of History.
Chip is also a writer for several magazines and other publications. He became interested in storytelling after listening to PBS’ Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion. His favorite venue for storytelling is sitting around a fire with friends.
Sean McCarthy

Musician Storytellers

Friday, February 2 at 7:30 pm

Sean McCarthy is the founder, front man, and lead vocalist of southern coastal group, Sean McCarthy Band.

Sean is also a songwriter, producer and record label head. McCarthy was born in Gloucester, MA and raised in Fernandina Beach, FL. In 1983, McCarthy moved to Nashville to be closer to country music’s epicenter. He started out playing at The Bluebird Cafe and Douglas Corner Cafe. Following this move, McCarthy combined country, bluegrass, and tropical with coastal lyrical themes. McCarthy uses the term “Coastal Country” to describe his musical style. He has released three studio albums and performs along Florida’s coasts, where he gets inspiration for many of his songs.

leaves iconVisit Sean’s website to read more about his band and other adventures.

Bob Patterson

Musician Storytellers

Friday, February 2 at 7:30 pm

Bob Patterson is a Florida Folk music icon. He has recorded 10 albums and has published three books.

Bob is an environmentalist and serves as spokesperson for protecting the wild heart of Florida. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Storytelling Association and the Fellow Man and Mother Earth Award from the Stetson Kennedy Foundation. He is an inaugural inductee in the St Augustine Music Hall of Fame. Bob is co-founder of the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival.

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Shana Smith
Shana Banana

Musician Storytellers

Friday, February 2 at 7:30 pm

StoryTime with Ms. Dearsha

Saturday, February 3 at 10:30 am

Shana Smith became nationally known as “Shana Banana” and earned a reputation as one of today’s top children’s entertainers, with a voice that delves into blues, jazz, folk, and spiritual music as well.

Performing at major festivals, schools, libraries, and performing arts centers across the U.S., she has earned many prestigious awards. She has stayed close to her love of the environment and her home state of Florida by writing songs and programs for both children and adults. Shana is also the author of two books, with another on the way. Her most recent novel, Island of Cedars, won the Ensley Developing Writer Award.

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Visit Shana’s website.   Read more about her books here.

Paul Strickland

Musician Storytellers

Friday, February 2 at 7:30 pm

Storytelling Workshop

Saturday, February 3 at 1 pm

Lunch with Storytellers

Sunday, February 4 at 12:30 pm

Paul Strickland is a multi-award-winning storyteller and musician from Kentucky. His stories and songs are always a touch surreal but always find a way to touch the heart.

Adept at adapting to whatever listeners are in front of him, Paul has told stories Off-Broadway, with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, and as a Featured Teller at the National Storytelling Festival, but even more importantly at elementary schools, libraries, living rooms, and even two prisons – where he was NOT an inmate at the time.

leaves iconVisit Paul’s website.  

Kim Weitkamp

Musician Storytellers

Friday, February 2 at 7:30 pm

The Tongue and Pen: A Workshop for Writers

Friday, February 2 at 10 am

Lunch with Storytellers

Sunday, February 4 at 12:30 pm

“If we are talking Rock ‘n Roll, Tina Turner was a national treasure; country has Dolly Parton and in the world of storytelling we have Kim Weitkamp.” Steve Perry from Highway 89- SiriusXM
Kim grew up as the red headed middle child of exhausted parents. Her childhood adventure with story was shaped by television of the 70s combined with the worn out fairy tale collection she read over and over and her father’s love of Johnny Cash and old- time radio shows being played throughout the house. Kim carved out her role as the class comedian at a young age writing skits and songs and sharing stories that exasperated her parents while thrilling her high school theater teacher. In her work as a humorist, storyteller, and singer-songwriter, the results of these influences show up in her work time and time again.
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Visit Kim’s website

Festival Information

See Also

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