When Teton County Library launched the Cabin Fever Story Slam series in 2015, organizers didn’t know what to expect. Crowded together in the intimate confines of Pinky G’s pizzeria, they prompted community members to tell true tales about a time they had a “bad idea.”
Jeff Moran said it wasn’t long before the team knew they were onto something.
“We realized that everyone has made a bad decision or had a bad idea that they’re happy to share with people,” said Moran, who’s been emceeing the events since their inception.
Eight years later, the library will host its 50th Story Slam next Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the Virginian Lodge. While themes are often specific, touching on everything from dating to close calls, next week’s has fewer restrictions: The prompt is “the story you’ve been wanting to tell.”
“We decided to keep it more open ended just to try and attract people who maybe have great stories but feel they don’t always fit a particular theme,” Moran said.
These events are competitions: Storytellers throw their names into a bucket and, if chosen, take to the stage to recount a five-minute story. A panel of judges awards prizes to the top three contestants.
For attendees, the appeal of this event is simple, Moran said. It’s an opportunity to sit back and listen to other people’s stories — just one reason he said that Story Slam has caught on.
“Even if you’re just there to watch and to listen, there’s a sense of connection that you get to the people that are telling the stories,” Moran said. “People tell super deep and intimate stories about their lives, and you get to learn a lot about people who you maybe never would have crossed paths with or never have the chance to meet.”
After kicking off years ago at Pinky G’s, the Story Slam quickly outgrew the venue and moved to the Pink Garter Theater, which shut down last fall. A conference room at the Virginian Lodge is the new home for the event.
While the venue has shifted, Moran’s witty banter has remained a constant at the Story Slam, and he’s excited to continue hosting.
“It really does create a deeper connection,” he said, “between people in our community.”