The Ark’s 36th annual Storytelling Festival returns to Ann Arbor in February

Event extended to three days, shows added

Writer and director Amir Baghdadchi, of The Moth, will be MC on Friday night of the Ark's annual Storytelling Festival in Ann Arbor. (Amir Baghdadchi)

ANN ARBOR – The Ark will be hosting its annual Storytelling Festival Feb. 24-26.

The event was expanded to three days in 2023 and featured three shows designed for various ages.

Here’s the lineup:

Friday, Feb. 24: 8 p.m.

The Ark’s First Annual Liars Contest

The Ark will host its First Annual Liars contest featuring “six of the best liars in the region.” Each will tell a 10 minute story and vie for a trophy, bragging rights and a crisp $100 bill.

The Liars include:

  • Larry Castleberry
  • Jennifer Otto
  • Rich Swanson
  • Jeff Doyle
  • Genot Picor
  • Mike Cox

In a tongue-in-cheek release, the Ark announced its judges for this year’s event:

“Kathleen Daniels/Married to Jeff Daniels, a man who makes his living by pretending to be other people; Karl Fink/As a retired District Court judge, he spent most of his life listening to liars … and not just the attorneys; Christopher Taylor/Mayor of Ann Arbor, a politician—need we say more?”

Writer and director Amir Baghdadchi, of The Moth, will be MC on Friday night.

Saturday, Feb. 25: 8 pm

Traditional storytelling from Bill Harley, Sheila Arnold, and Steve Daut

Bill Harley is a songwriter and storyteller. A regular to the Ark, he has been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

He enjoys performing for people of all ages and will perform a one-man-show at the event, in character from the story “Stickeen” by wilderness advocate John Muir.

A Q&A will follow the performance.

Sheila Arnold performs in libraries, schools, museums, churches and at professional organizations. A history buff, Arnold is also the co-founder and artistic director of Artists Standing Strong Together.

She has been awarded two artist fellowships during her career.

Steve Daut will be MC on Saturday evening and will tell stories of his own. He is described by the Ark as “a champion of the art of storytelling.” He’s also an active and longtime member of the Ann Arbor Storytellers Guild.

Tickets for the event are $30.

Sunday, Feb. 26: 1 p.m.

Family Show

The matinee show will feature Saturday’s storytellers in a family-friendly event.

Tickets for the show are $15 for adults and $10 for kids.

Tickets go on sale on Friday, Oct. 7. To purchase tickets for the Storytelling Festival, click here.

For more information, visit

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.