12th annual storytelling festival planned at mill



PICKENS — The Hagood Mill Historic Site & Folklife Center will host its 12th annual storytelling festival on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The celebration will be held as part of the museum’s “Music in the Mountains” series.

The hills around the old mill will echo with the whispers, howls ‘n hollers of some of the Southeast’s best storytellers sharing bits about all sorts of folks, funnies, cultures and places.

Returning to again host what has become one of Hagood Mill’s favorite annual events is storyteller, musician, radio personality and 2013 State Heritage Award recipient, John T. Fowler. From the rolling hills of upstate South Carolina with family ties to the western North Carolina mountains, Fowler’s storytelling is a blast of old-time energy of yesteryear introducing traditional yarns and folktales from the Carolina region.

Those Appalachian family ties run deep in Fowler, which in turn creates his friendly and energetic personality. He also is an old-time mountain banjo and harmonica master, and plays several other traditional instruments, occasionally blending them into his programs. Fowler’s stories and old-time songs, geared for audiences young and old, are stepping stones of history and southern culture. Fowler is also a researcher, collector, preservationist and writer as well as the host of an old-time radio show on NC public radio station WNCW 88.7 FM. For more on Fowler, please visit

This year’s festival features three other renowned storytellers in Ellouise Schoettler, Martha Reed Johnson and Derrick Phillips.

From near Washington, D.C., with family ties to North Carolina, Schoettler is a 20-year professional storytelling veteran. An “old-time southern teller,” like the family storytellers she grew up listening to on her grandmother’s front porch in Charlotte, Schoettler blends personal experience, family lore and memories into heart-warming original stories that can also tickle your funny-bone. Ellouise also produces and hosts two cable storytelling shows in the Washington metro area. You can see many of her videos on YouTube ( and she produces a Washington, D.C., area storytelling series. In 2013 she was awarded a National Storytelling Network ORACLE Award for Leadership and Service to the art of Storytelling.

Originally from New England, humorist and storyteller Johnson is always a welcome breath of fresh air. According to her parents, Johnson has been telling tales from the time she could talk. She shares with heart and humor stories of growing up in a family of crazy adventurers. Martha has firsthand experience of life in a tall tale. From Massachusetts to California, Florida to Nova Scotia, across three continents, on horseback, foot, a flying bus, and a bike, Johnson’s travels will leave you laughing, weeping and wanting more. She is a master at finding, creating and telling amazing stories from the ordinary and not so ordinary moments of life.

A local story spinner and musician from Oconee county, Phillips is a must-see man of humor and wit. A folksinger, songwriter, and storyteller accompanying himself on guitar, banjo, piano, and dulcimer, Phillips has performed at festivals, schools, libraries, coffeehouses, and community concerts as well as conducting many school residencies in the Carolinas. During his years of substitute teaching in the Anderson County schools, he would often tell ghost stories at the end of class as a reward for good behavior, earning him the title of “Mr. Scary.” Once, he was almost arrested for busking on Main Street in Greenville, but now he is the music instructor at Clemson Montessori School. His latest CD is called “Knife Winds of the City,” a concept album about the pros and cons of being a “starving artist.”

Throw in a spattering of old time musicians along with the usual wonders presented every month by the Hagood Mill’s collection of volunteer artisans and living historians, and you have a day that everyone in the family will enjoy.