Elliott Celebrates Nature Through His Stories

Elliott Celebrates Nature Through His Stories

Doug Elliott says he tells stories because he’s celebrating nature. Stories just evolve from that, he believes. His stories are organic and unique and are usually told (or sung) to the harmonica.

Originally from Maryland, Doug has made his living for years as a traveling herbalist—gathering and selling herbs, teas, and natural remedies. When he noticed bee hives all over Utah, he says it kind of inspired him to investigate and share stories of honeybees.

“I’ve been a naturalist since I was a little kid. I tell snake tales and fishing stories. I have a whole set about honeybees,” he said.

Doug likes Utah and its beauty, rugged landscapes, and rocks. “I’ve been to Utah two times. We’ve made a family trip of it,” he says.

He enjoys telling stories, especially during what many feel are difficult times. “I feel honored when people show up to listen to me,” he shares. “I feel like storytelling makes sense of our lives. We’re all in this together. We share this world. We’re unraveling the mysteries together.”

Elliott’s stories are family friendly—about catfish, possums, dandelions, wild snakes, and the ‘nature’ in human nature. He can wail out a jivey harmonica tune or take you on an unforgettable cultural tour of North America’s backcountry. He can perform a lively concert of tunes, spin tales, and share outrageous personal narratives flavored with regional dialects—with more than a few belly laughs. He has spent time with traditional country and indigenous people, learning their ways of relating to the natural world.

In recent years, Doug has performed at festivals, museums, botanical gardens, nature centers, and schools from Canada to the Caribbean and has been a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival. He has lectured and conducted workshops at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and the Smithsonian Institution. He has led ranger training sessions for the National Park Service and guided people on wilderness experiences from down-east Maine to the Florida Everglades. He was named harmonica champion at Fiddler’s Grove Festival in Union Grove, N.C.

The National Storytelling Network (the largest storytelling membership organization in the world) inducted him into their Circle of Excellence for “exceptional commitment and exemplary contribution to the art of storytelling.” The International Herb Association presented him with the Otto Richter Award honoring his work with herbs and useful wild plants. The National Association for Interpretation (the professional organization of park rangers, naturalists, museum curators, etc.) honored him with the Master Front Line Interpreter Award for his “mastery of interpretive techniques, program development, and design of creative projects” celebrating the natural world and our human connection to nature.

Doug is the author of five books and many articles in regional and national magazines, has recorded a number of award-winning story and song albums, and is occasionally seen on PBS-TV, and the History and National Geographic Channels.

Come enjoy Doug’s unique and entertaining storytelling as you experience nature’s beauty first-hand in the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point, September 8-10, 2022.

Join Us as We Welcome Donna Washington to 2022 Festival!

Join Us as We Welcome Donna Washington to 2022 Festival!

“Every story I tell is true—except for the parts that I make up,” quips Donna Washington, who will make her first in-person appearance at the 2022 Timpanogos Storytelling Festival to be held in Lehi, Utah’s Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point, September 8-10.

Washington has told stories professionally for 34 years. “I do a lot of telling,” she said. Her TSF debut was originally slated for 2020, but due to the pandemic, her stories were enjoyed only online. Donna, as well as Festival audiences, are thrilled she’ll be with us this year!

“My favorite part of storytelling is when you develop an awareness of each other. It’s really hard to hate someone if you know their story because that’s what stories do, they allow you to stand in other people’s shoes.”

Donna went to Northwestern University to study theater, but at the end of the trimester she found herself enrolled in two graduate classes that included storytelling.

“Surprise!” she said. She ended up being mentored by a professional and has since become renowned for her storytelling to both children and adults, including stories that are poignant and funny to race relationships. She is also well known for her spine-tingling tales of terror.

“It’s the only job I’ve ever had and there are days when it feels like work!” She said, describing a time she was telling stories to students with one in the audience who wanted “to be lippy.” Once she invited him to be “Heckedy Peg” in her story, he became a friend and a part of the story.

“I’m looking forward to seeing people,” [following the pandemic] she said. “It’s like coming home. I’ve been missing live audiences.”

In her storytelling career, Washington has been featured at numerous festivals, schools, libraries, theaters, and other venues around the world including Canada, Peru, Argentina, and Hong Kong.

During the pandemic, she presented over two hundred virtual shows and workshops and co-founded the non-profit organization Artists Standing Strong Together with Master Storyteller Sheila Arnold.

Donna’s eleven storytelling CDs have garnered 30 national awards and she has written numerous articles about storytelling and education, including her popular blog, Language, Literacy and Storytelling. She has published four children’s books, with her fifth to be released in September 2023. Her first adult book, “The Men of Kent Street,” is to be published later this year, focusing on the suppression of black Americans, voting laws, and white riots.

Donna resides in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and two cats.