Storytelling takes over downtown Platteville


Jacob Thomas photo Social media and event coordinator Kira McGrigg announcing the winners of the storytelling competiton.

Downtown Platteville’s Driftless Market hosted a story slam in its upstairs event venue. A story slam is a competition where attendees tell stories to an audience and are judged on their ability to tell the story. The theme was “first times.” 

Anyone telling stories at the event had a chance to win gift cards but winning first place earned a basket of gift cards and a handmade leather notebook.

“It’s not high stakes or anything. We have two judges that volunteered. Terry Burns from the English Department and Margaret Ruff from Outdoor Adventure Club,” social media and event coordinator Kira McGrigg said.

The stories were graded on delivery, relevance and length.

“We declare third, second and first place on a few different categories. The first is storytelling ability, like how well you can tell a story. The second is content, whether it was relevant to the theme. And time, keeping the story between five and ten minutes,” McGrigg said. 

The story that won third place was told by Danielle Hall who described her first time travelling internationally.

“It was a 20-hour trip from Rosso, Illinois, to Portugal, and when I get to the hostel I’m staying at, all I want to do is take a shower. However, I walk into the bathroom and see a urinal,” senior Spanish major Danielle Hall said.

In her story, she went on to describe how she accidentally walked into the men’s room and hid in the shower to avoid being caught.

“This would be a compromising situation by itself, but since no one in the hostel spoke English, and since I don’t speak Portuguese, this would be very hard to explain,” Hall said.

The story that won second place was told by Nick Haught, who told of his first kick-boxing match. 

“I started doing Muy Thai when I was 14, but my first real match wasn’t until I was 16. I was terrified and kept bouncing and when the match started, I heard the other guy say, ‘oh, crap’ because he was terrified too,” Haught said.

During the match, Haught was kicked at an angle that broke two of his ribs, and he admitted that the pain of the broken bones mixed with stage freight at the match caused him and his competitor to cry.

“We [Haught and his competitor] made a promise that we cannot cry if we fight again. My Grandma was in the audience for that fight, and she was making fun of me for crying,” Haught said.

The story that won first place was told by Seneida Biendarra, who shared her first time scarring off mountain lions. 

“I was a tour guide at the Chase Ranch in the New Mexico desert, and I was taking my group through Hell Fire Canyon, which is full of mountain lions that look down on you from the cliffs,” Biendarra said.

She continued to recount the story of how her group found out that mountain lions had circled them in the night and how she had to scare them away. 

“I told them to make as much noise as possible. At first they just started screaming, which made them look more like prey. I started screeching the lyrics to ‘Ice Ice baby’ and that worked better,” Biendarra said.

After the stories were told several audience members talked amongst themselves about how they hoped the story slam would be back next year.

“There’s a fifty-fifty chance that I’ll make one [a poetry slam] for May but I do leave Driftless Market and the Driftless Area in late May. I’ll have to pass the gauntlet onto someone else. There have been people asking if we could do a story slam for kids to tell stories and I thought that’d be really cute, but I won’t be here to do it. It depends on who picks up social media and if they want to continue it,” McGrigg said.

The future of story slams at Driftless Market is undetermined at this time, but Driftless Market hosts many events, so another story slam is not out of the question.