Spotlight on Storyfest 2018 in Cookeville, TN

Posted by Kate Spears on

Join WCTE’s Get Ready To Learn host Cindy Putman as she chats with Beth Thompson and Peggy Fragopolous about Storyfest that is returning to Dogwood Park on Saturday, May 5, 2018.

Lend us your ears for our FREE, family-friendly Storyfest in the Park 2018. This year’s festival is set to take place in the big tent behind the History Museum in Dogwood Park. (But, just in case, the Cookeville Performing Arts Center is reserved for a rain location.)

“If you’ve never seen a professional storyteller, treat yourself to a wonderful day under the big tent,” Beth Thompson, Cookeville museums manager, said of the free festival to be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The event headliner this year will be Storyteller Tim Lowry from Summerville, SC. A well-told story is the pure cane sugar in the Sweet Tea of Life. Hearing Tim spin a yarn is like sitting on the front porch of the world while sipping the “House Wine of the South.” In the tradition of Mr. Mark Twain, Tim blends historic fact and folk tale with poetic language that is refreshingly candid and deliciously sweet.

Lowry, known for his zippy historical tales and laugh-out-loud personal stories, is no stranger to Cookeville. He was part of the 2016 Storyfest lineup.

“He enthralled audiences with his hilarious and energetic brand of telling,” Thompson said. “We know how much the crowds will appreciate his return visit.”

Lowry grew up in southeastern Kentucky, where he learned the art of storytelling from Appalachian folk who spun yarns and told tales to entertain, teach morals and pass along local history. In the tradition of Mark Twain, he blends historic fact and folktale with poetic language that is “refreshingly candid and deliciously sweet,” his website says. After earning a theater degree, he taught English for five years before going into full-time storytelling. He has made several TV appearances, recorded CDs, filmed a DVD and written a storytelling handbook.

Also taking the Storyfest stage will be Jane O. Cunningham of Georgia, Allen Dyer of Portland (formerly of Baxter) and Peggy Fragopoulos of Cookeville.

Cunningham, a Mississippi native who lives in Georgia, is a Ridge and Valley Storytelling Guild member, a producer of The Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival in Rome, Georgia, and a retired teacher. She has presented story programs and workshops throughout the Southeast from Washington, D.C., to Puerto Rico.

Dyer is a humorist and storyteller, as well as an assistant principal at Portland High School. He has been active in education for more than 30 years as a vocational teacher and administrator, and storytelling is a natural part of his classroom experience. He tells tales about life and his adventures growing up in the Upper Cumberland.

Fragopolous taught public school for 43 years and is in her 34th year of teaching at the collegiate level. She is also a world traveler and author of “That’s the Truth If I Ever Told It,” a biography on Grand Ole Opry legend Bashful Brother Oswald, as well as a new book of motivational “Thoughts for the Day.” She has participated in Storyfest each year.

We also will have an all-new amateur storytelling competition this year with some of your friends and neighbors telling tales for your enjoyment! Distinguished judges scheduled to appear: Randy Porter, Putnam County Executive and THE Judy Duke! Once again, our wonderful emcee will be Rick Woods.

In addition, music will be presented by the Tennessee Tech University Afro-Caribbean Ensemble.

Join us for food vendors Blue Coast Burrito and a brand-new food truck from McMinnville featuring a Cuban twist on Asian bao buns! Shop “Artists’ Alley” again this year, with art booths featuring Brian Stamm (photography), Vern Skinner (wooden boxes), Helga Skinner (photos, cards & gifts), Wayne Hogan (unique collages), Heidemarie Weidner (pottery) and MORE! Artists' Alley will be located in the grassy area between the History Museum and Putnam County Library.

Thompson said Storyfest showcases the art of storytelling, which is “very different from reading a book to a child.”

“Storytelling is the oldest form of historic recordkeeping, going back to the beginning of time,” she said. “Our storytellers will entertain and enlighten you with their style of storytelling, taking you on a journey where you’ll laugh and cry and walk away with a smile feeling very glad you came.”

Schedule for the day:

10:00 am – Music from the Tennessee Tech University Afro-Caribbean Ensemble

10:30 am – Allen Dyer

11:00 am – Peggy Fragopoulos

11:30 am – Jane O. Cunningham

12:00 noon – Tim Lowry

1:00 pm – Music from the TTU Afro-Caribbean Ensemble/Lunch

1:30 pm – *ALL NEW* Storyfest Competition featuring...

1. Harrison Young

2. Ruth Phipps

3. Matt Beal

4. Cindy Putman

5. Jim Buck

6. Dwight Henry

7. Caneta Gentry

8. Dave Johnson

9. Michael “Birdie” Birdwell

3:30 pm – Jane O. Cunningham

4:00 pm – Tim Lowry


We'll see you in the big tent behind the Cookeville History Museum!

Oh, did we mention, admission is FREE?! (More free, family fun from YOUR City of Cookeville Leisure Services Department. 

HUGE THANKS to this year's sponsors: CityScape, Tennessee Arts Commission, Cookeville Arts Council and the Friends of the Cookeville History Museum!

For more information, call the Cookeville History Museum at 931-520-5455.


Tune in each Saturday morning at 9:30 for the WCTE Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, with host Cindy Putman on Zimmer Broadcasting's The HUB 107.7 FM and 1400 AM.


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