Gimistory, the Cayman Islands’ international storytelling festival, is coming to Bodden Town on Nov. 29.

Gimistory is as simple as its name. Combine imagination with glowing, ghostly shapes moving eerily among the almond trees, a sudden wind, footsteps, Grandpa Touslin’s mean spirit, two local boys who try to steal a cow tail with a butcher knife, plus an air conditioner stolen from a church wall during service. Now, take that and add in a few international and local story tellers like Trinidadian calypsonian Black Sage and local comedian Quincy Brown, some fry fish and fritters, some strangers and some locals, and you have Gimistory.

Then the stories start.

Black Sage entertains the crowd.
Black Sage entertains the crowd.

Long ago when Gun Square and Cumber Avenue were lit only by moonlight and oil lamps, duppies roamed. Neighbors played pranks and men could not resist telling tall tales.

Telling stories is in our Caymanian blood, especially in the veins of Bodden Towners. The older folks were born storytellers, made even more so by the lack of television and radios in some homes. These traditions were passed in verbal story form from generation to generation, and we all have stories to tell.

At Gimistory, a free event, some people bring a blanket and chair and move about when each storyteller comes on stage. Stories last about 20 minutes, with roughly 10 people speaking throughout the evening. It’s a way to connect with strangers, and to have a good time through laughter, wonderment and drama.

Gimistory night is the brainchild of Henry Muttoo, and presented through the efforts of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation.

Since its inception in 1998, Gimistory has been considered one of the best festivals of its kind, uniting generations and nationalities, both as performers and audience members, and attracting returning visitors year after year.

Kenworth Connor cooks a batch of fritters at Gimistory some years ago.
Kenworth Connor cooks a batch of fritters at a past Gimistory. Fish and fritters are a big part of the storytelling event.

Each of the districts on Grand, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman enjoy a free night of storytelling at picturesque venues on beaches under the seagrape trees, or at a park or open field under the moonlight. Local and overseas storytellers take to the stage and tell a tall tale or two while the crackle of burning wood hints at the hot, delicious fried fish and fritters available after the stories.

The festival brings more than 2,500 people together from virtually every sector of Cayman’s multigenerational, multiational community, in addition to visitors from abroad.

During the day, storytellers visit schools, making special presentations to students in each of our three islands.

CNCF’s Gimistory is an event for all ages, taking us back to a time when people provided their own entertainment; a time when the imagination created images more colorful than any television screen; and when family and friends came together at dusk to share tall tales, suggest the festival’s organizers.

Gimistory is heading to Bodden Town next week.
Gimistory is heading to Bodden Town next week.

Gimistory schedule

  • Saturday, Nov. 26 – Tiki Beach – Dave Martins and Tradewinds Cayman Reunion Concert Tickets $35. Purchase at any BlackBeard’s, Foster’s Food Fair locations or Funky Tang’s.
  • Monday, Nov. 28 – North Side – Ned Miller’s Yard
  • Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Bodden Town – Nurse Josie’s Senior Home
  • Wednesday, Nov. 30 – East End – Heritage Field
  • Thursday, Dec. 1 – Cayman Brac – Agriculture Ground
  • Friday, Dec. 2 – West Bay – Public Beach
  • Saturday, Dec. 3 – George Town – Smith Barcadere – “Duppy Story Night.”

 

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