The Bluff Country Tale Spinners (BCTS) was started in 1999 by Dr. Phyllis Blackstone and Ms. Sara Slayton. Both these women had backgrounds in teacher education and children’s literature and an abiding interest in storytelling. Phyllis had belonged to a storytelling guild when she lived on the East Coast, so when she arrived in La Crosse she searched for a comparable group. There was none, but she was given Sara’s name. Sara had been teaching a storytelling class for Extended Education. The two met and the Tale Spinners guild was created. Current members include storytellers and story listeners from all walks of life; teachers, lawyers, therapists, military personnel, toastmasters, home schoolers, forensics members, parent, grandparents, retirees, and teens.

Want to join in on the fun of storytelling?

Become a part of the Bluff Country Tale Spinners!

During BCTS guild meetings announcements are made about current local, state, regional, and national storytelling events and there is a brief time used for guild business. However, most of the time is spent sharing stories. Beginner through advanced tellers share stories and receive feedback from Guild members. Storytellers do not have to be professional, they only need to have a love of stories. Shared stories come from personal experience, folklore, legends, history and numerous other sources. Story listeners are always welcome!

BCTS Meetings are held the second Thursday of every month, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at
King Street Kitchen, 141 7th St. S., La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Phyllis Blackstone“I was initiated into the storytelling world very early in life by listening to stories on my mother’s lap and hearing my father’s “somewhat-true, somewhat not true” stories at the supper table. As an educator for 37 years, I first used stories with first graders and now use stories to train teachers and literacy specialists at the university level. I cannot imagine teaching without the use of storytelling.It’s my favorite and most effective teaching technique.”

Phyllis Blackstone
Co-Founder of the Bluff Country Talespinners
Professor at Viterbo University

Terry Visger“I believe storytelling is a powerful and important tool for all aspects of our lives: family,cultures, education, entertainment, business. We learn and remember things best when we learn through story and we have fun doing it. Story and storytelling have had a huge impact on my life and I feel it is important to keep this art alive and share it with others.”

Terry Visger
Retired elementary school teacher
Adjunct instructor at Viterbo University


Sara Slayton“I believe in the power of story and the beauty of the spoken word. When the two are combined, the result is a rich, natural expression which touches the very core of our humanity.”

Sara Slayton
Retired University lecturer
Co-Founder of the Bluff Country Talespinners
Professional storyteller and Teacher Educator



Lynn Wing“I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to a gifted speaker with complete attention. But later, the only part of the speech I remember with any detail is the story he used to illustrate his point.

A good story becomes part of me. Its lessons expanding and shifting as I experience life’s challenges and triumphs.”

Lynn Wing


Gwyn Calvetti“Our ancestors knew that story was the way to understand nature —human nature and the natural world—and ignite imagination. In today’s world, understanding nature and using our imaginations is more important than ever, and storytelling can take us there.”

Gwyn Calvetti
Professional storyteller and special educator
Northlands Storytelling Network