I sit here at my desk, staring at Uncle Sol’s cabin wall, thinking of the monumental work that has happened on the grounds at Hindman Settlement School. As my tenure lengthens, I learn more and more about the Settlement movement and the history of the school at the Forks of Troublesome. It deepens my appreciation of place, and leaves me awestruck at the work that has been accomplished. This place has inspired greatness… it still does!
These inspirations continued the first weekend in November with our 5th annual Dumplins’ and Dancin’ – A Celebration of Appalachian Food and Dance. Folks from 7 states and even Canada gathered on the banks of Troublesome to learn Appalachian traditions of food and dance. Food workshops this year included The Character of Cornbread, Shucky Beans, Fried Apple Pies, Pull Candy, Fried Chicken, Salt Rising Bread, Curing Pork, and Bean Pie, while we offered dance and Appalachian party games taught by Randy Wilson, Carla Gover, and Paulina Vasquez.
As people gathered in on Saturday morning, the smells of fresh local foods wafted through the Mike Mullins Cultural Heritage Center. Workshop presenters gathered ingredients and equipment to share their knowledge and expertise with our guests. I was lucky enough to taste test my way through the day!!! Chef Sara Bradley’s fried chicken was seriously life changing, Maggie Bowling’s pull candy was creamy perfection, and Susan Brown’s salt rising bread was unique and tasty with homemade apple butter. Katie Hoffman and Ben Tiller taught the art of making fried apple pies and threw in tips and tricks for cooking with cast iron. The pies were delicious, and their selection of vintage cast iron was also extremely intriguing. I led the class on cornbread and participants made and tried different variations, while Melissa Bond and I summoned our inner Ronni Lundy to teach a class on shucky beans. To say folks were stuffed was an understatement!
Following a day full of food, we gathered to discuss cornbread and to share our cornbread stories. JR Damron of EK3 Farms in Virgie, demonstrated his antique corn mill, and people debated cornbread traditions and styles. Randy Wilson shared a song about cornbread and debuted his new project, Voices From the Land.
While participants were taking in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Appalachia, our wonderful Chefs, Ouita Michel, Kristin Smith, and Sara Bradley were expertly preparing a world tour of dumplings. Over 100 people gathered for the Feast that took taste travelers from Appalachia to Venezuela to Uzbekistan. What an amazing meal!!!
Lora Smith, Emily Hillyard, and Courtney Balestier delivered a thought provoking and fun keynote, as they debuted the new book The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell. Shortly after this reading, we all met in the Gathering Hall and danced the night away!
Mark your calendars for the 6th annual Dumplins’ and Dancin’, November 7th, 2020.
-Gallery of Photos, Dumplin’s and Dancin’ 2019: