Preserving Food & Dance Traditions

This past December we entered the holiday season in good spirits with a lively weekend of food, dancing and friends both new and old to the Settlement. This was the second year for our Dumplin’s and Dancin’ event, celebrating heritage food and mountain square dance traditions and we were thrilled to welcome guests from Mississippi to Pennsylvania to Washington, DC.

Acclaimed author Ronni Lundy graced us with stories from her marvelous book Victuals about Appalachian food, and let us join her in making delicious blackberry dumpling. Dance callers Becky Hill, Randy Wilson, and Erin Cokonaugher-Stidham led participants young and old through the basics of “flatfooting” or “clogging,” and taught attendees how to call their own square dances. Participants learned about and helped make fudge and beautiful pies, and heard butcher lore while learning about new and traditional techniques for carving up beef.

One of the biggest joys for us is seeing our campus full of people and energy, and this was no exception. Our Great Hall in the May Stone Building was full of pies and dozens of square dancers on Friday and Saturday nights, with a delicious meal on Saturday evening with local meats and produce prepared by James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist Ouita Michel.

Food and heritage culture continue to be driving priorities for us here at the Settlement, and events like this help keep us grounded in the reason it’s all important. We’re celebrating the act of bringing people together – whether around a table or a dance floor.

The best thing at the end of the weekend was hearing people who had never been to an event here tell us, “I want to come back to Hindman.” We are already looking forward to another year of this fun event, and we hope you’ll join us!