Candy-Makers, Crystal Wilkinson And A Cross-Cultural Music Collaboration


This week’s episode of Inside Appalachia is a mix of rich storytelling and cross-cultural collaborations. What happens when a musician from Belarus gets together with Appalachian folk musicians? And we’ll talk with Affrilachian writer Crystal Wilkinson, who has just been named Kentucky’s Poet Laureate.

In This Episode:

Kentucky Pull Candy Harder Than It Looks
You can find recipes for pull candy online. But be prepared to fail, if you’ve never made it before. It’s hard to get it right. But it’s amazingly soft and creamy to eat.

Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporter Zack Harold caught up with a man who’s a confectionary master.

pull candy Joe Parcell

Zack Harold
Joe Parcell of Winfield, West Virginia, won’t even attempt making candy unless the thermometer is below 50 degrees due to the difficult process.

Crystal Wilkinson Named Kentucky’s ‘21-’22 Poet Laureate
Crystal Wilkinson is the first Black woman in Kentucky to hold the title of Poet Laureate. Wilkinson is an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky. Over her career, Wilkinson has focused much of her writing on Black women and their experiences in Appalachia.

crystal wilkinson.jpg

Courtesy Crystal Wilkinson/Credit Stefen Reed aka Mr. Ayobe
Affrilachian writer Crystal Wilkinson has just been named Kentucky’s Poet Laureate.

This week on the show, we hear Wilkinson read a poem she says is an ode to her grandfather and tobacco.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Discusses New Book
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been at the forefront of many people’s minds, the opioid epidemic remains as another public health crisis. Many believe the actions by pharmaceutical companies created the problem. Reporter Eric Eyre won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting into the issue. He compiled his reporting into a book called “Death In Mud Link: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic.”

Last March, Eyre spoke with West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Eric Douglas about his reporting and the future of the epidemic’s impact in Appalachia.


From National River To National Park
Last year, West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River became the New River Gorge National Park. It’s the 63rd in the nation and the first in West Virginia. Those who fought for the change say it could make all the difference for the local tourism economy.

Reporter Duncan Slade looks at one of the oldest and one of the youngest national parks to find out what the future of the New River Gorge could look like.

slavalachia 100 days in appalachia

Chad Reich/100 Days in Appalachia
Brett Hill attended Belarusian musician and activist Siarhei Douhushau first American show at a small bar in Athens, Ohio, in March 2019, which was the start of a music collaboration that has now reached across an ocean during a global pandemic.

Musicians Collaborate To Create Slavalachia
Appalachia is no stranger to music as a form of protest. A new, cross-continental connection between Slavic and Appalachian folk musicians has given the form a unique flavor.

This week on Inside Appalachia, we hear a story from 100 Days in Appalachia’s Chad Reich about the musical collaboration known as Slavalachia and how this musician collaboration has lent its voice to an uprising halfway around the world from its roots in Athens, Ohio.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was by Florence Reece, Wes Swing, Dinosaur Burps and Slavalachia.

Roxy Todd is our producer. Jade Artherhults is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Andrea Billups. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode. You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.