February 4, 2014
Back by popular demand, “WOW! Stories” returns to Whidbey Island Center for the Arts Stories is from 10 a.m. to 3 pm. Saturday, March 8 for the third annual celebration featuring personal stories from some of Whidbey’s most interesting and inspiring women.
This year’s lineup includes talks from Lisa Kois, Georgia Gerber, Sue Taves, Vicky Brown, Colleen Chartier, Chéri Olney, Sue Frause, Beth Smith, Jeanne Strong, Val Easton, Autumn Preble, Lynnaea Lumbard, Dyanne Sheldon, Amy Wheeler, Audrey Neubauer, Kathy McLaughlin McCabe, Cynthia Jaffe and Erica Rayner-Horn.
The event also features performances by Margaret Storer and Linda Morris, Karin Blaine and Siri Bardarson, Bekah Zachritz, Whidbey Island Dance Theatre, and group activities led by Judith Walcutt and Daunne Zinger.
Presenters span six decades in age and their interests are just as varied. Among the presenters are writers, educators, philanthropists, sculptors, a midwife, musicians, dancers, international businesswomen, a travel writer, adventurers, a psychotherapist, an architectural photographer, an ecologist, and a high school student who collects books and funds for struggling school libraries. They will talk about their passions in life — and they won’t always be what you expect.
What started off as an idea by Diana Lindsay that “within every Whidbey woman there’s a TED Talk,” has now evolved to become a uniquely Whidbey version of the famed TED conference, complete with riveting talks and remarkable performances ranging from 5-12 minutes that inspire and delight. Hundreds of Islanders – women and men, young and old— continue to gather for this annual benefit for WICA and Whidbey Island Nourishes (W.I.N.)
“I saw it as a love poem to the wonderful women of Whidbey,” Lindsay says, remembering the founding vision behind WOW! Stories. “And I think that’s why it continues on, and why we see more and more men in the audience each year!
The event is produced by a volunteer team of friends who call themselves Seriously Fun Productions —Diana Lindsay, Rene Neff, Lynn Willeford, Shannon Arndt and Heather Racicot. Their motto: If it’s not fun let’s not do it!
“We are often asked ‘Won’t you eventually run out of women to invite?’ And our answer is always, ‘Are you kidding?’ There are so many women here with talent, passion and true character that we worry we won’t get to all of them before we die,” says Willeford.
For loyal attendees that have attended each year, the WOW! promise of “stories worth sharing” calls them to attend the event again. “We were so enthralled and moved by the first WOW! Stories that upon hearing there was going to be a second event, we wondered how it could ever repeat the experience,” said Langley resident Carol Kerley. “And yet, last year’s event blew our expectations away. We’re sure this year will exceed our expectation once again.”
Last year, the event was one of the fastest-selling events in WICA’s history, selling out before the posters were even up for the show. “We joked about selling a few of the sold-out tickets on the black market to bring in more donations for WICA,” said Shannon Arndt, the newest member of Seriously Fun Productions and speaker at the inaugural event in 2012.
“WOW! has become one of Whidbey Island’s most popular and well-loved shows, featuring inspired talks and moving performances from the Islands leading thinkers and doers,” said Deana Duncan, programming and production director for WICA. “It’s unique, creative, courageous, and awe-inspiring.”
WICA’s executive director Stacie Burgua adds, “Today’s society needs real-life heroes. Heroes who inspire us to do more, be more, and who we can relate to – “If they can do it, I can do it.” I think the success of WOW! stems from discovering the heroes who are living in our own community. They are people we might know and we’d love to learn a bit more about them.”
WOW! Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and the day ends with a no-host wine reception.
Tickets are $25 (includes Star Store box lunch) and are available from WICA (221-8268, www.wicaonline.com) while they last. Snacks and refreshments will be offered for sale by Whidbey Island Nourishes (W.I.N.)
Thanks to WhidbeyTV, videos of past presentations are available online at the WOW! Stories website.