Hilferding didn't plan his trip to be a research one, like Rybnikov's. Little did he know.
"With just two months for my trip, I didn't think I would be able to discover more than I had planned. What I sought was satisfy my curiosity by meeting those storytellers. But, one lucky occasion turned the purpose of my trip from tourism into that of folk collector," Hilferding later wrote.
That happy occasion happened to be Kenozero and its people. Once there, Hilferding realized that Pavel Rybnikov never even reached what was true capital of Russian epic folk tradition. Bylinas, ballads, epic tales would be told to him in every village of Kenozero. Storytellers – men and women, young and old – the place abounded in them!
Two villages were especially prolific, Nemyataya and Shishkina. Here, Hilferding collected the majority of epic tales. In Shishkina, he stayed at Semyon Shishkin's and in Nemyataya in the two-storey house owned by the Nechaevs.
He didn't have to look for storytellers or performers, they were brought to him, by volunteers. They were so many that some had to wait for two or three days to tell their tales. And as Hilferding followed all those songs and stories, he wondered how their tellers could possibly know about those events that happened in old Kyev, Novgorod, Ryazan and Tver? Where could they hear about Avdotya-Riazanochka, Ilya Muromets, Dobrynya Nikitich, Alyosha Popovich, Sadko, Vasily Buslaevich, Khoten Bludovich – all heroes of the Ancient Rus'? Nearly ten centuries have passed since they were first told.