May 26, 2018
West Virginia’s foremost liar is 38th award winner
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Bil Lepp, five-time winner of the West Virginia Liars Contest and a nationally known storyteller, received the Vandalia Award from West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith at the Saturday evening Vandalia Award Concert.
“Bil Lepp is a West Virginia treasure,” said Commissioner Reid-Smith. “Since 1990 when he first appeared in the West Virginia Liars Contest, he has shared stories about West Virginia that give his audiences and his readers a glimpse into the humor, hospitality and good nature of West Virginians.”
Lepp has been internationally recognized for his storytelling talents. He has been presented with the National Storytelling Network Circle of Excellence Award and has appeared at the National Storytelling Festival and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
In addition to his personal appearance, Lepp is the author of six books and 16 audio collections. His first children’s book, The King of Little Things, won the PEN Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing, a Kirkus Starred review and favorable reviews from The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, The School Library Journal and other publications. It also won the Zena Sutherland Award, the Parents Choice Gold Award and was chosen to be West Virginia’s book at the National Book Festival in 2014.
A West Virginia native, Lepp continues to support the West Virginia Liars Contest, appearing as a storyteller and judge, and has recently appeared as a guest emcee for Mountain Stage.
The Vandalia Award proclamation presented to Lepp reads:
WHEREAS Bil Lepp can spin a yarn about any subject; and
WHEREAS he began his career as a liar in 1990 when he appeared at the West Virginia Liars Contest which he has won five times; and
WHEREAS, no matter how skewed, his lives and stories offer his audiences and readers a glimpse into the truth about life and West Virginia’s beauty and history; and
WHEREAS he is internationally recognized, having been presented with the National Storytelling Network Circle of Excellence Award and having presented his stories annually at the West Virginia Liars Contest, National Storytelling Festival and at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival; and
WHEREAS his books include award winning children’s publications and he encourages children to write at his school appearances; and
WHEREAS he continues to encourage the creativity of writing and performance every year as an emcee and judge at the West Virginia Liars Contest at the Vandalia Gathering; and
WHEREAS those stories and lies shed light on the humor, hospitality and good nature of West Virginians;
THEREFORE I, by the authority vested in me to foster the preservation of West Virginia’s traditional culture, due present to Bil Lepp the Vandalia Award for the year 2018