Van Sykes, owner and pitmaster of Bob Sykes BBQ, will share stories at the Shelby County Arts Council Black Box Theater on Aug. 13.

Van Sykes, owner and pitmaster of Bob Sykes BBQ, will share stories at the Shelby County Arts Council Black Box Theater on Aug. 13.

Van Sykes shares his stories with the Shelby County Arts Council

Story by Lindsay Dyess

Contributed photo


Storytelling has always been a great tradition in the South. Whether people enjoy telling or listening, stories are a way of bringing people together. Over the years, the Shelby County Arts Council has brought lively stories to the Black Box Theater stage to entertain folks from all over. Now, we proudly present a night of storytelling with local storyteller Van Sykes.

Van Sykes may be best known as owner and pitmaster of Bob Sykes BBQ, but he also possesses an incredible gift for storytelling. Sykes has been sharing stories his whole life.

“I’ve always enjoyed sharing true stories about my history growing up and spending my entire life at Bob Sykes BBQ,” Sykes said.

Spending his life in the family BBQ business gave Sykes the opportunity to meet many different people and collect stories along the way.

“I love people and interacting with people because that is what I do every day in my life,” he said. “That really is what story telling is all about.”

Norton Dill, a movie and TV producer, encouraged Sykes to give professional storytelling a real shot. Sykes joined ARC Stories earlier this year and has since performed his stories for hundreds of people. ARC Stories is a group dedicated to storytelling. ARC take stories out of the coffee shops or from around the dinner table and presents them on stage for all to experience. Each event has a theme and the ARC team works with storytellers to help shape their work.

Sykes’ first ARC experience was at the Avon Theater in front of 500 eager listeners. The theme for the evening was “stories from the workplace.”

Since that first event with ARC Stories, Sykes has done well for himself with the group.

“I am on the “Preferred” Storytelling list for ARC stories,” he said. “I’m also featured on the ARC Stories podcast and on NPR as a recent storyteller.”

Now Sykes prepares to bring his exciting stories to the folks of Shelby County.

Join us at the Shelby County Arts Council on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m. for the exciting Storyteller Night with Van Sykes, also featuring Columbiana Mayor Stancil Handley and Peg Hill. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $25. Your ticket also includes a beverage reception before the show.

Join us for a fun and unique night of entertainment. Hear stories that are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face. As Van Sykes says, “Look and listen close; everyone has a good story to tell.”

To purchase tickets or for information on this and other upcoming events, please visit or call 205-669-0044.