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contact info for Kentucky Storytelling Association: P O Box 4148, Frankfort, KY 40604-4148  secretary@kystory.org

Directory of Storytellers

Below are storytellers who have chosen to advertise their talents on this web site. We hope you will consider them the next time you are looking for a storyteller. We recommend that other references be checked before committing to a contract with any performer. Fees may vary widely. Storytellers listed from further distances should be considered, as storytellers frequently travel to performances. Storytellers, to purchase/submit a listing, click here.

Carrie Sue Ayvar
Chip Bailey
Ed Bryson
Richard Crowe
Sharon Hackney Fowler
Thomas Freese
W.I. "Bill" Hairston
Mary Hamilton
Mary Jo Huff
Angela Mckee
Ray Mendenhall
Octavia Sexton
Don Smith
Paul Strickland
Jonatha and Harold Wright

Photo of Carrie Sue Ayvar Carrie Sue Ayvar
1829 NE 179 St., North Miami Beach, FL 33162
305-945-4804 305-778-7998

Blending traditional, international & personal tales, Carrie Sue Ayvar takes her listeners on a journey into the imagination connecting people, languages and cultures through her stories that flow effortlessly between Spanish and English. Growing up with Eastern European Jewish stories she came of age in Mexico. Kennedy Center and Wolftrap trained Teaching Artist, Chautauqua scholar and award-winning bilingual storyteller believes, as her grandfather taught her, that “If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life.” Let’s find a pathway together!

Photo of Chip Bailey Chip Bailey
171 Lorraine Court, Berea, KY 40403
(859) 302-1547

Chip Bailey is a native East Tennessean who now lives in Berea, the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky. A past member of Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association, Chip uses his talents as a traditional fiddler to enhance his stories. He links Celtic music and Appalachian Old-Time tunes while giving the “back story” behind each song. Adult audiences enjoy the historical aspects of his performances. Those in earshot are often moved by lilting, lyrical sounds of his fiddle. A retired college professor, Chip intertwined storytelling with traditional music throughout his teaching career.

Photo of Ed Bryson Ed Bryson
205 Hillbrook Dr., Nicholasville, KY 40356

C. Edwin Bryson grew up in Brevard, North Carolina from where his family made frequent trips to the Bryson home place on the banks of the Tuckaseegee River that flows through Cullowhee and Bryson City. So nurtured was he by a rich spiritual heritage, he grew up to become an ordained minister. He lives now with his family near Lexington, Kentucky where he is an adjunct professor, writes, and tells stories. He is a member of the Kentucky Storytelling Association.

Photo of Richard Crowe Richard Crowe
5 Jasmine Court, Hazard, KY 41701

I am a retired educator who now writes books and tells stories. My favorite characters are Martin Van Buren Bates, a giant who married a giant, and his nephew Bad John Wright, a man described as one of Kentucky's most interesting men by Joe Creason. Also Daniel Boone, James Still, Happy Chandler, and the Kentucky feuds.

Sharon Hackney Fowler
415 Bastin Creek Road, Kings Mountain, KY 40442

Sharon say, "I was raised down in the hollers of the Appalachian mountains in eastern KY. I have been storytelling about the KY backroads for many years. I also enjoy ghost hunting and telling ghost stories! I have joined the Fort Harrod National Park as the witch in the graveyard and storytelling for all ages. I'm very intrigued by hearing others stories, and I enjoy the hunt for the story as well and sharing personal experiences with people I meet along the way! As a published author I have written several books including Traveling KY Backroads which was published many years ago. My journey in life consists of storytelling as well as writing and ghost hunting! I do a lot of charity work at and for events and really enjoy gathering old history stories and writing about them, as well as listening to my fans and followers about their life experiences and stories."

Photo of Thomas Freese Thomas Freese
2802 Floore Court, Louisville, KY 40299

Thomas Freese is a wonderful storyteller—author of nine books of ghost stories including Shaker Ghost Stories, Fog Swirler, Strange and Wonderful Things, Ghosts, Spirits and Angels, and Haunted Battlefields of the South. He entertains with animated voice and movement, performing for children and adults. He has performed from Ashland to Argentina. Thomas plays guitar, harmonica and other instruments, creating songs and telling a variety of story programs in English or Spanish--Pourquois tales, origami stories, silly stories and songs, winter tales, ghosts, desert southwest, fairy tales and folk stories. Pick any of his 20 educational and entertaining story programs!

Photo of W.I. W.I. "Bill" Hairston
P.O. Box 4466, Charleston, WV 25364

Among his many endeavors is his work as the Entertainment/Music Coordinator at the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee for 35 years. His stories and songs embody the rich Appalachian culture that he was exposed to as a child along the Coal River in West Virginia. He has been the moderator of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest for several years. Within his interpretations, he frequently weaves the contributions of African Americans to Appalachian history and culture. He has performed in schools, libraries and other venues throughout the region. Bill developed the elementary school program, “We Are One.”

Photo of Mary Hamilton Mary Hamilton
65 Springhill Road, Frankfort, KY 40601-9211

Audiences from Florida to Alaska – students in schools, families in libraries, adults in theaters – have enjoyed Mary’s “just talking” storytelling style and her repertoire of Kentucky tales, haunting tales, true stories and more. Mary presents workshops and coaches individuals. She wrote Kentucky Folktales published by University Press of Kentucky, received the 1999-2000 Jesse Stuart Media Award from Kentucky’s school librarians, and received a 2009 Circle of Excellence ORACLE from the National Storytelling Network. The Kentucky Arts Council recognizes Mary’s work in adjudicated Performing Artist and Teaching Artist Directories. Mary looks forward to working with you to serve your audiences.

Photo of Mary Jo Huff Mary Jo Huff
4333 Sandra Kay Lane, Newburgh, IN 47630
812-853-3024 800-213-0527

Mary Jo Huff is an Early Childhood consultant, published author, storyteller and recording artist who is recognized nationally for her wit, humor, and storytelling talents. "Storytelling with Puppets, Props, and Playful Tales" received the coveted Pegasus award from the National Youth Storytelling Network and a Parent's Choice Award.

Angela Mckee Angela Mckee
PO Box 35, Trenton, KY 42286

The storyteller Angela L.Mckee is from Trenton, Kentucky. She says, "My mission is to preserve the African-American folklore, history, culture, and heritage. I am happy to come to Elem. schools, churches, small events and community events. I love to promote, and history and inspire creativity to instill values to all listeners. To touch a heart!"

Photo of Ray Mendenhall Ray Mendenhall
101 Locust Grove Lane, Versailles, KY 40438

Ray Mendenhall comes from a family of storytellers. Humorous stories and family anecdotes filled his childhood and youth. For 20 years now, Ray has been telling professionally in venues across North and South Carolina and Kentucky. Following the "jolly man" tradition, he mixes amazing songs and whimsical stories into a celebration of the storytelling art. His infectious humor and easy style has engaged audiences in Festivals, schools, libraries, conferences, civic clubs and State Fairs. He has won medals for musical performance in the NC Senior Silver Arts Competition, several storytelling contests and the Bold-faced Liars Showdown in Laurinburg, NC.

Octavia Sexton Octavia Sexton
874 Big Cave Road, Orlando, KY 40460-9700

A native of eastern Kentucky, Octavia grew up in a rich tradition of storytelling. Her genuine Appalachian dialect and love for her Kentucky Mountains are the magic that brings her stories to life. She is a master storyteller and experienced teaching artist. Literary great Loyal Jones says, "Octavia is one of our few, true folk artists and her performances are authentic representations of the tradition from which she comes." Her stories carry the listener into the mountains of eastern Kentucky - where haints chill your blood, Jack tickles your funny bone, and the hills and hollers are full of surprises.

Photo of Don Ray Smith Don Ray Smith
9014 Hurstbourne Ln., Louisville, KY 40220
(502) 499-5664 or (502) 297-7929

Louisville native Don Ray Smith deals in contemporary humor, usually with adult (not dirty!) messages, from love to diversity to bust-out laughing parody and satire. He's performed at Spin-A-Yarn festival and various coffee houses in Louisville, at storytelling festivals in Hazard and elsewhere, and will be featured at a writers' retreat in Owensboro in early 2017. At times he livens up his stories with a mean pair of bongos. Don Ray can entertain your organization, book club, creative writing class or festival as he shows how he has "morphed" from journalist and humor writer to a humor "teller!"

Photo of Paul Strickland Paul Strickland
837 Greer St. Apt 5, Covington, KY 41011
(615) 969-7870

"An hour spent with master storyteller Paul Strickland is an hour well spent, and one you should not miss.” – Cincinnati Enquirer. Paul’s heartfelt and hilarious tall-tales and songs have been performed in virtually every imaginable environment, from Off-Broadway to elementary and middle schools, corporate events and even two prisons - where he was NOT an inmate at the time. Paul was an Exchange Place Teller at the National Storytelling Festival in 2018, and is a Featured Teller at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in 2020. Selections from his comedy performance “Levels of Difficulty” can be heard every day on SiriusXM radio.

Photo of Jonatha and Harold Wright Jonatha and Harold Wright
306 N Winter, Yellow Springs, OH 45387
937-767-9823     937-344-7531

Jonatha and Harold Wright have been specializing in Ohio, Ohio Appalachian and Japanese stories for the last several years. Often they work in tandem, but both also tell solo. In addition to folk and fairy tales, historical tales, myths and legends they have numerous personal stories. These they tell to a wide variety of audiences. The Wrights have taught storytelling in many Dayton area colleges. They do workshops all over the US and in Japan on storytelling techniques and skills. They have made frequent trips to Japan and all over Ohio in their teaching careers, always seeking and researching stories.

Copyright 2006-2021 by Kentucky Storytelling Association. All Rights Reserved. Revised July 28, 2021 Web site maintained by Kate Dudding