Storyfest Returns to Dogwood Park April 22

Storyfest returning to Dogwood Park April 22


COOKEVILLE – “Lend us your ears.”


That’s the theme of Cookeville Leisure Services’ fourth annual Storyfest in the Park on April 22 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Dogwood Park. The free family event will be held under a large tent in the grassy area behind the Cookeville History Museum.

“This festival showcases the art of storytelling, which is very different from reading a book to a child,” Beth Thompson, Cookeville museums manager, said.


Headliners include nationally renowned storytellers Bil Lepp, five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, whose humorous tales contain morsels of truth that present universal themes; Charlie McCoin, comedian, speaker and writer, who brings his unique style of humor and Southern charm to the stage; and Elizabeth Rose, who tells Appalachian folklore and other light-hearted stories.


Local storytellers Peggy Fragopoulos, Eliseo Rios, Calvin Dickinson and Jennie Ivey will also take part. Musical interludes will be provided by Cookeville pianist and vocalist Matt Beal.


“Stories are the oldest form of entertainment, so there’s always a story for you – and you are always part of a story,” Fragopolous, who has participated in Storyfest each year, said. “If we can get people to understand that, maybe they’ll be more enthusiastic about sharing their stories, and other people’s stories can inspire and encourage them.”


The Storyfest schedule is as follows:


  • 10 a.m. – Music by Matt Beal
  • 10:30 a.m. – Eliseo Rios
  • 11 a.m. – Peggy Fragopoulos
  • 11:30 a.m. – Charlie McCoin
  • 12 p.m. – Elizabeth Rose
  • 1 p.m. – Bil Lepp
  • 2 p.m. – Music by Matt Beal
  • 2:30 p.m. – Calvin Dickinson
  • 3 p.m. – Jennie Ivey
  • 3:30 p.m. – Charlie McCoin
  • 4 p.m. – Elizabeth Rose
  • 5 p.m. – Bil Lepp


Rios, a Costa Rica native, came to the U.S. in 1971. He and his wife, Marjorie, moved to Cookeville the next year, and both have taught in Tennessee high schools and colleges.


Fragopolous has taught public school for 43 years and is in her 33rd year of teaching on 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.”


Dickinson taught at Tennessee Tech University for 30 years and has written and contributed to many books on history, including “People of the Upper Cumberland: Achievements and Contradictions” and “Tennessee Tales the Textbooks Don’t Tell.”


Ivey writes a Sunday newspaper column for the Herald-Citizen and is a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and Guideposts magazine. She has co-authored three books: “Tennessee Tales the Textbooks Don’t Tell,” “E is for Elvis” and “Soldiers, Spies and Spartans: Civil War Stories from Tennessee.”


New this year, Storyfest will also include an Artists’ Alley and food truck vendors.


“We’ll have several local and regional visual artists’ booths with items like homemade soaps and lotions, jewelry, pottery, photos and prints,” Thompson said. “So we’ll have more of a festival atmosphere.”


For more information about Storyfest in the Park, call the Cookeville History Museum at 931-520-5455.


“If you give it a try, you will not be disappointed,” Thompson said. “You will walk away with a big smile on your face, I guarantee it.”