By Ben Woolley | Reporter
Every third weekend in October, the Heart of Texas Storytelling Guild goes to Oakwood Cemetery for an event called “Walking Tales: Bringing Historic Stories to Life,” and this year it happens to fall on homecoming. This year there will be about 25 storytellers stationed throughout the cemetery telling tales of late governors, senators, legendary pioneers and infamous people laid to rest there.
McLennan County is named after Neil McLennan, an early settler of the Edwards Plateau of Central Texas. Buried in Oakwood Cemetery, McLennan is one of many that will have their story shared this weekend.
The Heart of Texas Storytelling Guild was established in 2007, but the one in Waco has been held at the Oakwood Cemetery since 2009.
“When we began the guild, there was a need to creating a venue or an atmosphere to tell our stories,” said Vivian Rutherford, a children’s librarian for the Waco-McLennan County Library, otherwise known as the “story lady.”
Rutherford has worked for the Waco-McLennan County Library system for 16 years. She conducts weekly story-time for toddlers and pre-kindergarten students at the East Waco Library and Waco Central Library. Rutherford is also a founding member and established president of The Heart of Texas Storytelling Guild.
Rutherford expects a big turnout since people will have time to make it back to the homecoming football game. She said the event grows each year and calls for new storytellers. They try to rotate out storytellers, but some just come back each year. This year Rutherford expects the biggest turnout yet.
“We love having them out here. It’s a great opportunity for people to come out and learn history about people buried here and explore our historic cemetery,” Clint Lynch, Oakwood Cemetery’s general manager, said.
Storytellers will be bringing stories to life and giving the public free entertainment. For listeners, the storytelling guild can be entertaining and informative at the same time.
“It is a unique experience to witness people tell the stories of past significant figures in the history of Waco,” Waco Tribune-Herald chief photographer Rod Aydelott said.
With the event held inside the cemetery, some people may keep their distance, but for people like junior Christian John Kearton, it provides a rush of excitement in October.
“I went last year and I want to go again this year,” Kearton said. “I learned a lot about the history of Waco and it also got me in the mood for Halloween.”