Dumplin’s & Dancin’

The 3rd annual Dumplin’s & Dancin’ will take place December 1-3, 2017.

Dumplin’s & Dancin’ is more than just a get-together. It’s a community-wide gathering where farmers, musicians, chefs, square dance callers, seed savers, dancers, and food activists, all committed to the preservation of Appalachian foodways and dance traditions, come together to learn, network, and eat at the historic Hindman Settlement School. Attendees may choose to take part in a host of workshops and each evening features a powerful keynote along with lively music and dancing.


  • A special Cornbread Convocation, hosted by Appalachian Food Summit, will kick off the weekend on Friday evening with readings from James Beard Award-winning author Ronni Lundy and James Still Writer-in-Residence Rebecca Gayle Howell.
  • A locally-sourced Feast prepared by two of Kentucky’s finest chefs, Ouita Michel and Kristin Smith.
  • A keynote presentation from Carla Gover and Paulina Vazquez of Cornbread & Tortillas, the collective of Appalachian and Latino artists who build community through music, song, and dance.
  • Opportunities to digitize recipes, share stories, and swap seeds during informal gatherings throughout the weekend.
  • Nightly square dances will feature performances from the house band and special guest musicians and callers.

Explore the tabs below to discover more about Dumplin’s & Dancin’ and its staff. To register, click here or the link in the blue banner near the bottom of the page.



Friday, December 1
2:00pm Registration/Check-In May Stone
3:30pm Welcome & Orientation May Stone-Great Hall
4:00pm Concurrent Session

Old-Fashioned Holiday Candies – Travis Milton
Kentucky Big Set – Randy Wilson

Various Locations
6:00pm Dinner & Cornbread Convocation May Stone
8:00pm Community Square Dance May Stone-Great Hall
Saturday, December 2
8:00am Breakfast & “Jam Session”
Bring your favorite jam to share!
May Stone-Dining Hall
9:00am Concurrent Session

Sauce – Benny Massey
Caller Swap – All Dance Instructors

Various Locations
10:30am Concurrent Session

Dumplin’s – Crystal Wilkinson
Flatfoot, Clogging, & Buckdance – Becky Hill

Various Locations
12:00pm Lunch & Learn
Featuring a reading by HSS Writer-In-Residence Rebecca Gayle Howell
May Stone-Dining Hall
1:30pm Concurrent Session

WV Heritage Sausage – Mike Costello
Dance Calling For Success – Deborah Thompson

Various Locations
3:00pm Concurrent Session

Fermentation – AuCo Lai
From The Village To The Front Porch – Joan Brannon

Various Locations
5:00pm Keynote & Performance
Featuring Carla Gover & Paulina Vazquez of Cornbread & Tortillas
Various Locations
6:00pm Local Foods Feast
Prepared by chefs Ouita Michel & Kristin Smith
May Stone-Dining Hall
8:00pm Community Square Dance May Stone-Great Hall
Sunday, December 3
8:00am Breakfast May Stone-Dining Hall
9:00am Morning Sing & Closing Thoughts May Stone-Great Hall

For concurrent session descriptions, click the “Sessions” tab.


Concurrent Sessions

Food Workshops

Indian Creek Dumplins (Crystal Wilkinson)
Whether rolled out flat, dropped, or formed into a ball, “chicken n dumplins” has long been a staple of any Appalachian or rural southern kitchen. In this workshop, author Crystal Wilkinson will put her own spin on this classic dish inspired by her grandmother’s recipe she learned growing up on her grandparent’s farm on Indian Creek in Casey County, KY.

Old-Fashioned Holiday Candies (Travis Milton)
Travis Milton will guide us through two old-fashioned candy recipes: potato candy and saltine cracker toffee. These old-time treats would be right at home on a traditional Appalachian Christmas celebration sweets table. Participants will roll up their sleeves and work with Travis to make enough candy to share with fellow Dumplin’s and Dancin’ friends and guests.

Sauce (Bennie Massey)
Barbecue sauce, French fry sauce, or sauce sauce – Bennie Massey makes the best sauce, according to Bennie. Bennie barbecued for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2003, he recalls, “I could have sold 10 cases of my sauce.  I made enough money to pay for my trip, but I coulda made a lot more. But, you know, they didn’t know how to use the sauce. They poured it on, then at the bottom of the tin foil…there was my sauce, and then it would go in the garbage. I couldn’t stand seeing my sauce go in the garbage.” Sit in with Bennie and Ronni Lundy as they talk sauce in a casual conversation-style setting!

West Virginia Heritage Sausage (Mike Costello)
In this workshop, Costello will start by giving an overview of several types of traditional sausages made throughout his native West Virginia. Then participants will get the opportunity to join in the making of one of these types of sausages, while recipes will be provided for other types.

Fermentation (AuCo Lai)
The class will be a hands-on course on introductory Lacto Fermentation. AuCo will talk about the basic science of fermentation, and produce a small batch of kombucha, as well as a basic kimchi with participants.

Dance Workshops

Kentucky Big Set (Randy Wilson)
This workshop is a hands on study of a traditional dance style that came with settlers from North Carolina and lodged here on a mountain in Letcher County, KY. Randy first encountered the Kentucky Big Set in the early 1970’s at an old one room school house in Carcassonne, KY. He recalls “What impressed me about the dance was that there was no need for instruction and old and young dancers could join in immediately to the dance.”

In this workshop participants will imitate that tradition by joining hands in a big circle while the caller joins the dance, demonstrating and calling a figure with the couple directly to the right, and they in turn will do the figure with the next couple to their right. There is a break after every figure where all couples swing, promenade and circle back to place.

Participants will do figures such as – Birdie in the Cage; Wave the Ocean, Wave the Sea; Take a Little Peek; Harlan Rosette; Box the Gnat; Star Right and Left; and Grapevine Twist.

Dance Calling For Success (Deborah Thompson)
In this calling workshop, you will learn the basics of successfully leading community dances, including teaching, prompting, and choosing dances. Types of dances included will be square, contra, mixer, and circle dances. There will be a chance to practice! Bring in the directions to a dance you know. There will be also be some dance directions to choose from and take home with you.

From The Village To The Front Porch (Joan Brannon)
In this uplifting workshop, we will explore technique and rhythms used in West African drumming and combine percussion instruments to create our own rhythm-song as an ensemble.

Appalachian Flatfoot Dance
Now is your chance to learn traditional Appalachian flatfoot dancing & clogging! For both beginners and dancers already knowledgeable in step dancing techniques, Becky will quickly cover steps like the Tennessee Walking Step, play with improvisation and how to create your own step, and learn a short piece of choreography.


Staff Bios

Featured Speakers, Chefs, and Keynote

Ronni Lundy, born in Corbin, Kentucky, has long chronicled the people of the hillbilly diaspora as a journalist and cookbook author. Her books include Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken: The Heart and Soul of Southern Country Kitchens Butter Beans to Blackberries: Recipes from a Southern Garden, and Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes. She is the former restaurant reviewer and music critic for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, former editor of Louisville Magazine, and has contributed to many national magazines. Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken was recognized by Gourmet magazine as one of six essential books on Southern cooking. In 2017, Lundy received a James Beard Award for her book, Victuals.

Lundy has taught food writing for the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School and this will be her third time featured at Dumplin’s and Dancin’.

Rebecca Gayle Howell is the author of American Purgatory, which was selected by Don Share for the 2016 Sexton Prize. Her debut collection, Render /An Apocalypse, was a finalist for Foreword Review’s 2014 Book of the Year and received wide critical acclaim, most notably by David L. Ulin for the LA Times, who called the collection “remarkable.” Howell is also the translator of Amal al-Jubouri’s verse memoir of the Iraq War, Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation, which was named a 2011 Best Book of Poetry by Library Journal and was shortlisted for Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award. Among Howell’s honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize; she has also been awarded sustaining support from the Kentucky Foundation for Women throughout her career. Since 2014, she has edited poetry for the Oxford American.

Howell lives in Knott County, where she serves as James Still Writer-in-Residence at the Hindman Settlement School.

Carla Gover, Paulina Vazquez, and Yani Vozos of Cornbread & Tortillas, a collective of Appalachian and Latino artists whose mission is to build community by sharing art, music, dance, and cultural heritage. Through outreach events, educational shows, workshops, and performances we celebrate our similarities and differences to create unity in a diverse world.

Wayne Riley, a carpenter by trade, founded the African American Heritage Center in London, KY in 2004 with the mission of conserving the traditions and legacy of the African American community.

Wayne is also well known for carrying forward his own family’s tradition of barbecue and fish fries, and for this has been a featured demonstrator at several festivals including the Kentucky Folklife Festival in Frankfort, the Redbud Folklife Festival, and the Multicultural Folklife Festival in London. As CEO/Director of Laurel County African American Heritage Center Inc., he has coordinated oral histories, youth summer programs, and several community-wide celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday – which includes speakers, music, a parade and a dinner; and he manages the Grow Appalachia Food Security Project in Laurel County. Mr. Riley received the 2016 Berea College Service Award and attended the 2008 inauguration of President Barrack Obama.

Kristin Smith’s, co-owner of The Wrigley Taproom and Brewery in Corbin, KY, dedication to eating locally means that her restaurant strives to utilize every cut of meat and adjusts the menu nightly. Not only does this mean that the Wrigley’s menu is over 50% local even in the dead of winter, it also means that the menu options are always fresh and exciting.

Kristin was living in California when her family considered selling their 120 acre farm in eastern Kentucky. She had nightmares for three nights thinking the farm would end with her generation. Kristin moved back home and her family’s farming legacy now continues with beef cattle and heritage hogs. Over the past few years, she has directly marketed her animal welfare approved meats to consumers through the Whitley County Farmers Market, and began using her meat to offer ready-to-eat meals to shoppers. Cooking for the Farmers Market allowed Kristin to use her culinary creativity and to experiment with potential restaurant menu options.

For Kristin and her business partners, Andy Salmons and John Baker, the urge to create a new business and a new vision for their hometown led them to open The Wrigley.

Ouita Michel has always made locally grown ingredients a priority in her restaurants. That’s why the cuisine is so good. She and her husband, Chris, bought the Holly Hill Inn in Midway, KY in 2000 and opened the fine dining restaurant in May 2001. Michel’s use of locally sourced foods both helps sustain Bluegrass family farms and provides her customers only the freshest, best-tasting fine cuisine. The devotion to local foods is evident also at her other restaurants: Wallace Station Deli just outside Midway; Windy Corner Market and Restaurant and Smithtown Seafood, in Lexington; The Midway Bakery, Midway; and Woodford Reserve Distillery outside Versailles, Ky., where Michel is chef-in-residence and operates Glenn’s Creek Café and Glenn’s Creek Catering. Her latest restaurants, Honeywood, and Smithtown at the Summit, opened in 2017 at the Summit at Fritz Farm development in Lexington.

Michel’s work earns accolades from local and national fans of her cuisine. Bourbon aficionados will find her restaurants along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. She has been a James Beard Foundation Award nominee as Outstanding Restaurateur and as Best Chef Southeast numerous times, competing against chefs in major metropolitan areas. Her restaurants are regularly featured in local and national media, such as CBS This Morning, USA Today, Wine Spectator, Garden & Gun, Southern Living and The New York Times.

This will be Ouita’s third time as Dumplin’s and Dancin’s Chef-in-Residence.

Food & Dance Workshop Staff

Joan Brannon leads a Spirit-Guided life.  Her passion is revealed through performing and teaching drumming and percussion. Joan respects the drum as a sacred instrument that utilizes rhythms for ritual, celebration and as a tool for strengthening community. She facilitates dynamic drum circles and rhythm experiences for organizations, teams and community groups. Joan teaches school residencies for all ages and teaches the drum as a tool to enrich the lives of women. To share what she has learned, Joan founded the group Sisters of the Sacred Drum, who perform traditional rhythms of West Africa and original work that includes spoken word, song and dance. A proud Kentuckian, Joan has performed live and recorded with Sabari Bengoma, American Spiritual Ensemble and with many other artists. Joan has studied, performed and taught throughout the US and in Guinea, West Africa.

Chef Mike Costello and his partner Amy Dawson began restoring a historic family farm in Harrison County, WV as the first step towards a longtime goal of producing foods inspired by time-honored cooking, preserving, and harvesting traditions. While their work to bring back the farmstead is far from finished, they have found their home at Lost Creek Farm. Mike and Amy currently stay busy taking their traveling kitchen across Appalachia and caring for rabbits, chickens, honey bees and a wide variety of heirloom crops. In the near future they hope to expand, working to make Lost Creek Farm a destination for cuisine and quality products inspired by Appalachia’s culinary and agricultural heritage.

Becky Hill is a percussive dancer, square dance caller, choreographer, published writer, community organizer, musician, yoga teacher and budding folklorist. Becky is currently an Artist in Residence at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV, where she coordinates The Mountain Dance Trail of Augusta Heritage Center and co-directs the Appalachian Ensemble. Becky also organizes Dare to be Square West Virginia. She is often seen performing with Good Foot Dance Company along Matthew Olwell and Emily Oleson. She believes there is always more to learn and is dedicated to creating innovative choreography rooted in tradition. She hopes her work will bring people together and honor those that have inspired her.

AuCo Lai, originally from New Jersey, is currently living in Letcher County, KY. The child of Vietnamese immigrants, she grew up learning to grow, cook, and preserve food traditionally. She has cooked in various notable restaurants in NY/NJ and currently working in the kitchen at Heritage Kitchen in Whitesburg, KY.

Bennie Massey served his Harlan County, KY community as an underground coal miner for 30 years, specializing in mine safety. He is a longtime deacon of his church, founding member of the Mt. Sinai Spirituals men’s gospel choir, contributor/cast member of Higher Ground Community Theater, and volunteer to his local fire department. Bennie serves on the Lynch City Council and as the current president of the Eastern Kentucky Social Club, which is headquartered in the historical former Lynch High School. The Club includes nearly a dozen chapters across the country, the largest in Columbus and Detroit, and organizes annual reunions of African American families who have out migrated from Harlan County. They also engage in youth development, provide scholarships, and support local families in need.

Deborah Thompson coordinates country dance programs at Berea College, where she combines her love of old-time music and dance with her desire to pass it on to others. Since 1976, she has performed both solo and with various groups.

Crystal Wilkinson is the author of a novel, The Birds of Opulence and two collections of short stories. She the recipient of the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Judy Gaines Prize and the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been a finalist for the Hurston Wright Award and the Orange Prize. With her partner, Ron Davis, she owns The Wild Fig bookstore in Lexington, Kentucky.

Randy Wilson is a native of the mountains of eastern Kentucky and continues the storytelling and music traditions of this culturally rich region. Grandson of one of the last frontier families, Wilson brings those values alive in song, story and dance. His performances often take him out of the region and he has performed extensively in music and storytelling festivals such as the Great American Dulcimer Festival, The University of Rome in Italy, Kentucky Folklife Festival, as well as the Smithsonian Appalachian Festival on the mall in Washington, DC.



Retreat Registration (includes all meals, Feast, and two-nights lodging: $225
Workshops & Meals Only (includes all meals and Feast): $165
Workshops Only: $95
Feast Only: $40

Dumplin’s & Dancin’ includes five concurrent workshop sessions, meals include dinner on Friday through breakfast on Sunday. Our kitchen accommodates vegetarian diets. All on campus housing is cottage-style with a shared bath. For more information on accommodations, click the “About Campus” tab.

To registerclick here or the link in the blue banner near the bottom of the page.

For technical assistance with the online application, email jsmullins@hindmansettlement.org. Please allow ample time for a response.

About Campus

About Campus

The campus is hilly, and there will be some walking during the event. So, bring comfortable shoes. Please detail any mobility issues or concerns during the registration process and we will make every effort to accommodate your needs.

Rooms are simple but comfortable. Bed linens, pillows, and towels are provided, but you will need to bring your own toiletries. Our facilities utilize shared bathrooms. Consequently, you may wish to bring a robe. There are no telephones or TVs. A small, shared refrigerator is available.

Wireless Internet is available in the May Stone and Stucky buildings. The Knott County Public Library, located adjacent to campus, has public computers available with Internet access.

Depending on you service provider, cell phone coverage is spotty to good. You can leave the main office number (606-785-5475) as an emergency contact number. It is staffed during business hours. After hours, in the event of an emergency, a staff member may be reached at 606-438-5455.

All buildings are air-conditioned and smoke-free.

Pets, firearms, and alcohol are prohibited on School property.

Dress is casual, but shirt and shoes are required.

Our dining hall offers traditional and vegetarian meal options. Please indicate your dietary preference during the registration process. We have a filtered water system at the Dining Hall and public water is supplied from the Carr Fork Reservoir. The tap water is drinkable, but some prefer to bring their own drinking water. Bottled water is also available for purchase on campus.

A Dollar General, a Rite-Aid, and an IGA grocery store are located a few miles down the road. A small convenience store is located within walking distance of campus. A Wal-Mart and other major stores are located in Hazard, which is about 20 minutes away.