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Storytelling Concerts

About Our Nationally Certified ASL Interpreters

Joel Hill is from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he learned American Sign Language as a houseparent at the Tennessee School for the Deaf. Joel has worked in the field since 1969. He has interpreted for the Texas Storytelling Festival since 1990. In his spare time he is a songwriter and member of the band Sleepy Creek.

Libby Street is a professional sign language interpreter from Flag Pond, TN. Now in her 44th year of interpreting, she currently works as the Interpreter Coordinator for Tennessee Schools for the Deaf in Knoxville. Libby also works as a freelance interpreter, a workshop presenter, and a consultant on deafness, focusing on storytelling and Appalachian culture. Having deaf parents, she was always a natural communicating other people’s stories through her hands. Now Libby tells her own tales about life in a colorful deaf Appalachian family.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Thursday 7:00 – 9:00 pm 
Haunting Reflections (Free admission)

Tellers: Xavier Garza, Lorene Stilwell, Judi Tarowsky, Chester Weems, Elizabeth Ellis, Faye Hanson, and Deb Ann Allison
Emcee: Sue Kuentz

Xavier Garza was born and raised in a Mexican-American family in the Rio Grande Valley. He is a prolific author, artist, and storyteller interested in spooky Texas folklore such as the Chupacabra, La Llorona, La Lechuza and other cucuys. He’s published more than 20 books and continues to share the stories he grew up with through storytelling and his books. Xavier lives with his wife and talented musician son in San Antonio.

Lorene McHutcheon Stilwell comes from the West Coast of Scotland, a land continually haunted by the specters of past, present and future as well as various ghosts, goblins, witches and boogles. Many of these entities she is personally familiar with. She communes regularly with her ancestors (taletellers, heretics, and rebels all) as well as storms, the sea, night birds, the whispering wind and of course the moon in all her phases. https://seanachielorene.wordpress.com/

Judi Tarowsky stepped out to join the storytelling community after receiving a graduate certificate in Storytelling from UNT in 2010. She tells traditional tales, original stories and tall tales, Celtic stories, original historic stories, and West Virginia ghost tales. A Pennsylvania native, she now lives in West Virginia where her family has deep roots. She is president of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild, and a member of SASA and TSA. www.tellerjuditarowsky.com

Chester Weems is a storyteller from Oklahoma, also known for photographing storytellers. Chester is a former president of Oklahoma’s Territory Tellers and a former board member of Tejas Storytelling Association. He also enjoys memberships with San Antonio Storytellers, River and Prairie Storyweavers  (Missouri), Rocky Mountain Storytellers, (Colorado), and PROSig of The National Storytelling Network. He was on the planning committee of the new Tejas book “Forty Years of Texas Storytelling”. 
Elizabeth Ellis grew up in the hollers of Appalachia, a region well known for witchcraft and superstition. She has developed her crone powers through much study and practice. It has been said of her many times in the last forty five years that she can cast a spell over an entire crowd, be they adults or children. She is a sought after teacher of story magic. Some of her closest friends are toads. www.elizabethellis.com

Faye Hanson, after recently retiring from a career in education, returns to storytelling to share stories of natural phenomena and daily life. Faye applies her experience in the classroom to connect traditional tales and personal narrative to inform and entertain. Faye makes her home in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire where she enjoys hiking with her dogs.

Deb Ann Allison discovered the Texas Storytelling Festival in 2012 and knew immediately she found her tribe! She joined a local guild and has since told stories for community events throughout North Texas. Her tales glean from personal experience, a vivid imagination and research. Writing her own stories since 2016, this year she debuts her most recent completion … a ghost story inspired by Edgar Allan Poe!

Friday, March 8, 2024

Friday 9:00 – 10:30 am
Good Morning Denton Concert

Tellers: Joel Ying, Hayley Turner, Leslie Buie, Michael Guinn, Steve McCluer, Mel Davenport, and Sandra Aguirre-Magana
Emcee: Sally Goodroe

Dr. Joel Ying is a Physician-Educator-Storyteller. He practices holistic medicine in Naples, Florida. When he discovered the powerful medicine of storytelling in 2015, it became a passion. He teaches“Storytelling as Healing” at Florida Gulf Coast University. He produces events and performs personal stories and folk tales. Stories bring him alive… and he brings that “aliveness” to his performances to share the healing power of story. www.JoelYing.com

Hayley Turner is native to Dallas but now calls Tyler, Texas home. She writes and performs personal narrative stories in her own signature style unique to the charm of her personality and interactions with her inner and outer world. A member of the Dallas Storytelling Guild, she was selected as their 2023 Rising Star and won the 2023 Tejas Festival StorySlam. www.thecommonstory.com

Leslie Buie shares stories that often reveal his Southern roots, tap the wealth of distant memories, and sometimes stretch the imagination.

Michael Guinn holds a master’s degree in social work and is an internationally renowned spoken word artist, storyteller, multi-published poet and high energy emcee. He is also director of Mike Guinn Entertainment and founder/CEO of Uplift Your Life, a 501c3 that addresses mental health and emotional wellness globally via social awareness and performance arts. As an award-winning poet/actor and mental health advocate, he continues to build safe and supportive platforms for all artists everywhere. Michael is also a voting member of the NAACP Image Awards and hosts 6 ongoing open mics and 10 annual showcases. Michael is always seeking to book new artists. www.mikeguinnent.com

Steve McCluer has been writing and telling stories for over thirty years. A Dallas resident, he is a member of the Dallas Storytelling Guild, Writers Guild of Texas, and Carrollton League of Writers. Over the years he has progressed from telling children’s stories to funny, personal, thoughtful, and –his favorite—scary stories.

Mel Davenport shares inspirational stories once a month at a local nursing home, occasionally substitutes in the children’s department at her church, and continues weekly online Bible studies on Facebook. They are currently looking at the New Testament book of John, a great source of stories to share! 

Sandra Aguirre-Magana is an international bilingual storyteller, educator, and author. Even though she calls El Paso home, she is a native Chicagoan from the vibrant Mexican-American neighborhood of Pilsen. Her stories stem from a proud storytelling culture and tradition inspired by her family, especially her grandmothers who were great tellers. She has performed at the National Storytelling Summits, Texas Storytelling Festivals, the Chicago Millennium Foundation, and literacy events at libraries and schools all over the country. She is a member of NSN, TSA, and SCBWI. https://yocuentocuentoz.com

Friday 10:45 – 12:15 pm
Featured Tellers Concert

Tellers: Nestor Gomez, Donald Davis, Fran Stallings, Kathy Culmer
Emcee: Elizabeth Ellis
See featured teller section for photos and bios.

Friday 10:30 – 11:30 am
Family Tales with Sue Kuentz:  Stories from Around the World

Free admission at the Emily Fowler Library

Friday 12:30 – 1:45 pm
Lunch / Story Swap

Facilitator: Alice Nathan

Friday 4:00 – 5:00 pm
Rising Stars – Guild Representatives


Tellers: Guild Representatives: Nathan Holiner – San Antonio Storytelling Association, Neal Hughs – Mesquite Tellers, Barbara Bridgewater – Heart of Texas Tellers, Nicki Cohen – L’il D Guild in Denton
Emcee: David Claunch

Nicki Cohen believes all individuals deserve the opportunity to tell their own stories. Her storytelling has been shaped by performing as a folk musician while living in the Rocky Mountains, working as a music
therapist, singing professional opera, and earning a PhD in music education. Nicki loves to tell stories about miracles, silliness, joy, faith, courage, and compassion. To embellish these, she plays folk instruments and sings. Nicki’s tales are often flavored by her Jewish heritage.

Barbara Bridgewater has been doing story telling informally for many years as a teacher, both in schools and in home schooling her children. Although she enjoys telling a well-known history, lately storytelling for her is a way to make sense of the world, of ideas, and of her opinions of those ideas.  It has helped her laugh and cry as is needed, especially during the passing of her parents or health or dreams as she ages. Like teaching, Barbara enjoys the engagement of a crowd of listeners. 

Neal Hughs has been a member of Mesquite Storytellers of Abilene for several years. His background as a cowboy, probation officer, teacher and feed salesman provides an endless barrage of interesting, fun
stories. He has worked hard to learn to craft his stories for presentation. Neal has participated in community events in Abilene with his personal stories. His delivery brings with it the good ole boy swagger of a cowboy, dotted with unusual history lessons of Texas and people he has encountered along his way.

Nathan Holiner has loved stories his whole life. As a child, he loved listening to stories read aloud by his parents and grandparents, teachers and librarians. As he got older, he was able to hear professional storytellers. This was a whole new experience. One day he was invited to tell a story. He loved it! As a storyteller, he hopes to share his love of stories with others. 

Friday 7:30 – 9:15 pm
Featured Tellers Concert

Tellers: Fran Stallings, Kathy Culmer, Donald Davis, Nestor Gomez
Emcee: Loren Niemi
See featured teller section for photos and bios.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Saturday 9:00 – 10:30 am
Youth Storytelling Concert with Fran Stallings and Donald Davis

Youth Tellers: Youth Tellers to be announced
Emcee:  Toni Simmons

Saturday 10:00 – 11:00 am
Poetry Slam!

Tellers: TBA
Emce: Michael Guinn
(Free admission in the Denton Woman’s Club Building)

Saturday 10:45 – 12:15 pm
Featured Tellers Concert

Tellers: Kathy Culmer, Nestor Gomez, Donald Davis, Fran Stallings
Emcee: Donna Ingham
See featured teller section for photos and bios.

Saturday 12:30 – 1:45 pm
Story Slam!

Theme: The Story of Me
Tellers: TBA
Emcee: Michael Guinn
(Free admission in the Denton Woman’s Club Building)

Saturday 12:30 – 1:30 pm 
Lunch/Story Swap

Facilitator: Marian Fleischmann
(Free admission in the Emily Fowler Public Library)

Saturday 2:00 – 3:30 pm
Liars Contest

Tellers: Cora Newcomb, Nelda Toñe, Gary Whitaker, Kevin Cogan, Rich White, and Steve McCluer
Emcee: Bernadette Nason

Cora Newcomb has been a professional storyteller for over 25 years and loves telling stories and creating memorable characters. She has told stories to audiences of all ages throughout the Southeastern United States, engaging the senses and enchanting audiences everywhere she goes. Her focus the last couple of years has been researching what a storyteller needs to do to create a strong stage performance.

Nelda Toñe graduated from University of North Texas with a BS in Emergency Administration & Planning; minor in Leadership of Community & Non-Profit Organizations. While working with several non-profit organizations and government agencies, she established an inspection company. After many years of success, she chose to pursue her passion for public speaking. Presently, she is a storyteller who provides the audience with a unique approach to how to achieve their goals. neldatone.com

Rich White is a storyteller from the Kansas City, MO area who discovered storytelling after he retired in 2017. He tells a variety of stories, but has been known to stretch the truth on occasion. Rich’s greatest pleasure comes in seeing his audience get into a story, laugh and have a good time.

Gary Whitaker knows to tell great lies one must have a body of experience to build on. 72 years young with 30 years as a professional storyteller, Gary Whitaker, the Storyman, has that covered in spades. A local Fort Worth boy of the 1950’s and 60’s, he brings to life fun and often bizarre experiences through storytelling. Some may even be true.
Email: www.storymantales.com

Kevin Cogan began telling lies during his West Texas puppy years. When his family migrated to Houston, Kevin followed them to take advantage of available free food and lodging. He ended up in North Texas due to a space alien abduction. Kevin doesn’t recall the specific details because the event impacted his ability to remember stuff, like taking out the trash or putting his dirty clothes in the hamper rather than on the floor. story.teller@cogan.cc

Steve McCluer has been writing and telling stories for over thirty years. A Dallas resident, he is a member of the Dallas Storytelling Guild, Writers Guild of Texas, and Carrollton League of Writers. Over the years he has progressed from telling children’s stories to funny, personal, thoughtful, and –his favorite—scary stories. Steve has held four world titles in sky diving. He loves dogs and dislikes cats, so cats are naturally attracted to him.

Saturday 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Totem Pole Story Swap (on the patio)

Emcee: Fred Peters

Saturday 3:45 – 5:00 pm

Tellers: Dean Keith, Decee Cornish, Megan Hicks, and Gary Whitaker
Emcee: David Thompson
(In the Denton Woman’s Club Building)

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes
This poem, set in 18th-century rural England, tells the love story of an unnamed highwayman
and a landlord’s daughter.

Dean Keith is an active storyteller and member of the North40 Storytellers Guild. He has
performed in several roles at Lakeside Community Theater but now limits (sometimes) his non-storytelling performance activity to teaching technology to senior citizens at Dallas College.

The Asphalt Aesop, Road to an “Uprising”           
During the late 80’s through the early 90’s the rise of the gang culture in the inner cities was
destroying lives. What the police, the system, was doing was not working.  If the community
was to be saved it would be up to “The Men of Umoja.” Decee shares the tales of triumph and
tragedy, success and failure, love and faith in the ongoing struggle for the next generation.
(Adult subject matter, violence, and language)

Decee Cornish, the Urban Griot, has been telling stories and serving as a youth mentor for
decades in North Texas. As an awarding-winning teller, his work in the juvenile justice system has been recognized at the state and national level. www.deceecornish.com

When Logan Davis Learned to Read       
Teachers in Virginia, Florida, Utah, Texas, and 14 other states could be censured and possibly
fired for telling the true story of Logan Davis, a child who committed a felony by learning to
read. I’m a freelance artist. Nobody can fire me. (child abuse, battery)

Megan Hicks has told stories from coast to coast in North America and on three other
continents, with audiences of all ages and walks of life. Her stories span genres from sublime to ridiculous, folklore to personal lore, intense to silly. www.meganhicks.com

He was Just a Blacksmith
This presentation, involving pictures and a story focused on my great-grandfather, tells how a
simple title misled a family. I choose to perform what appeals to me because that is what I do

GaryWhitaker has been performing since 1993. He started out in boy scouts. His storytelling programs over the years in schools and libraries have covered everything from history to personal stories. www.storymantales.com   

 Saturday 7:30 – 9:30 pm
Featured Tellers Concert

Tellers: Donald Davis, Nestor Gomez, Fran Stallings, Kathy Culmer
Emcee: Rick Davis
See featured teller section for photos and bios.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Sunday 9:30 – 11:00 am (Free admission)
Sacred Stories

Tellers: Jyoti Subramanian, Brooks Myers, Shayne Larango, Kim Lehman, and Nestor Gomez 
Emcee: Peggy Helmick-Richardson

Jyoti Subramanian enjoys sharing life experiences through story.  She believes special moments in our lives— accomplishments, discoveries, failures, or any experience that brings us out of our equilibrium—have potential to become stories. Although her favorite genre is Hindu mythology stories, she can never tell them just the way they were passed on to her from her mother. She has a passion for weaving her own personal adventures into those already beautiful tales.

Brooks Myers is a 5th generation Texan who grew up north Dallas in the mid-1950s — the son of two classroom teachers, his grandfather was a blacksmith. His mother, Florence began her teaching career in a one room schoolhouse in Kenny, Texas.  Brooks attended UT Austin and worked for 30 years in Texas State government. He developed a love for storytelling after attending the 10th annual National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. Since retiring in 2019, he has been devoting more time to storytelling and volunteering, serving on the TSA Board of Directors until June of 2023.

Shayne Larango took the storytelling stage with a channeled ghost story she co-wrote with her deceased cousin. A storytelling livelihood is written in her stars. Shayne contributed an original story to the Texas Storytelling Festival’s 40th anniversary anthology, won the coveted Biggest Liar in Texas at the 2018 George West StoryFest, and is a Dallas Storytelling Guild 2016 Rising Star. She is now telling stories all over the world. https://www.youtube.com/@ShayneLarango

Kim Lehman specializes in entertaining, educational programs for children and adults that combine stories, music, props, science, and puppets. Currently on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster, Kim has performed at hundreds of schools and libraries. Kim is in demand as an effective workshop presenter with practical, inexpensive program ideas for librarians and teachers. She plays a number of instruments including the spoons and the nose whistle. https://www.kimlehman.com/

Nestor Gomez was born in Guatemala and moved, undocumented, to Chicago in the mid-80s. A 65-time Moth Slam winner and three-time Chicago Moth Grand Slam winner, he also the created, produces, and hosts ​80 Minutes Around the World, a storytelling show featuring the stories of immigrants, their descendants and allies. www.nestorgomezstoryteller.com

Sunday 11:15 am – 12:15 pm
Featured Tellers Concert
Tellers: Nestor Gomez, Fran Stallings, Kathy Culmer, Donald Davis
Emcee: Tim Couch
See featured teller section for photos and bios.