For 15 years and counting, Gimistory, the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival, has enchanted audiences of all ages and backgrounds, with a delightful blend of moonlight, comedy, song and tall tales.
This year, Gimistory runs from Saturday, 24 November, to Saturday, 1 December, and, as always, will visit every district and all three Islands. The festival is acclaimed by many who have attended storytelling festivals in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, as being among the best in the world.
By its very nature, Gimistory celebrates the art of communication, of talking and listening, of stories through song and of conveying information, whether lighthearted or profound. The seven-day festival brings together virtually every sector of Cayman’s multi-generational, multi-national community and has developed a following of visitors from abroad who return time and again.
Audiences fill the picturesque venues – beaches, parks and backyards – to enjoy this annual festival, which has become the official start of Cayman’s Christmas season. During the day, storytellers will visit schools, making special presentations to students, and at night, they travel with their tales from district to district including Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The Cayman National Cultural Foundation produces Gimistory as part of its mission to preserve the culture of the Cayman Islands and to stimulate artistic expression. This multifaceted festival is seen as a revival of the storytelling tradition and has become increasingly popular among families in the Cayman Islands.
“This is definitely one of the best live events in Cayman,” says Rita Estevanovich. “Gimistory takes place at the end of November through to the beginning of December, when Cayman’s weather is heavenly and most everyone is feeling the Christmas spirit. The air is crisp and the scent of freshly cooked food is so inviting! Of course, the entertainers are all fascinating and each one shares their passion for music, storytelling, and tradition. Come out – it’s magical.”
This year’s Gimistory will feature more than a dozen performers from all over the world. Familiar faces such as David Bearaux, Blacksage and Amina Blackwood-Meeks are crowd favourites, always leaving audiences wanting more kaisos, extempo and stories. The festival welcomes four new tellers: Valeska Borden and Lady Rabia from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, the Mighty Gabby form Barbados and Roy Bookbinder from Tampa. This year’s Gimistory will also feature a special Young At Arts night on November 30th in Gardenia Court, Camana Bay. The evening show will be hosted by students from the foundation’s youth theatre programme, Young At Arts, and there will be performances from the Montessori by the Sea school choir, Young At Arts members, Nayil Arana on fiddle and many other talented young performers including Miss Teen Cayman Islands 2012/2013, NorDania Stewart.
Each evening of storytelling concludes with local cuisine from the fry fish culinary competition. Fry fish, frittas and swanky (Cayman style ‘lemonade’ made with Seville oranges or limes and brown sugar) will be served to audience members who will not only enjoy the free samplings, but also have the opportunity to vote on their favourite.
Each district will compete for the honours of Best Fry Fish, Best Swanky or Best Frittas. Last year, Cayman Brac won the coveted titles of Best Fry Fish and Best Frittas, with George Town taking first place for Best Swanky.
Kaitlyn Elphinstone of the foundations says that Gimistory is a unique cultural experience.
“You’ll see storytellers from all over the world tucked into stunning natural backdrops, you’ll be surrounded by intoxicating smells of local fry fish and frittas cooked on traditional cabooses and you won’t have to pay a penny,” she tells us.