The Folkways Reporting Project showcases stories about Central Appalachia’s arts and cultural practices. From hip hop artists and basement cheese caves, to zines and the art of taxidermy, reporters from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio highlight the living traditions that are important to Appalachia’s diverse communities.

Stories air on Inside Appalachia, a weekly show and podcast from West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The project also provides a tool kit for educators to incorporate “Inside Appalachia” (or Folkways stories) into classrooms everywhere.

Many people think Appalachian culture is frozen in time, but we know that people are reshaping the region every day. #FolkIsFuture in Appalachia. Follow the project’s progress on Instagram.


Folkways Reporters/Fellows

Rebecca Williams
Folkways Reporter

Heather Niday
Folkways Reporter

Margaret Leef
Folkways Reporter

Vanesa Peña
Folkways Fellow

Traci Phillips
Folkways Reporter

Clara Haizlett
Folkways Reporter

Mason Adams
Folkways Reporter

Liz Pahl
Folkways Reporter

Rachel Moore
Folkways Reporter

Amanda Page
Folkways Reporter

Lauren Griffin
Folkways Reporter

Nicole Musgrave
Folkways Reporter

Capri Cafaro
Folkways Reporter

Wendy Welch
Folkways Reporter

Lydia Warren
Folkways Reporter

Connie Bailey Kitts
Folkways Reporter

Zack Harold
Folkways Reporter

Will Warren
Folkways Reporter

Stefani Priskos
Folkways Reporter

Madeline Miller
Folkways Reporter


Folkways Videos

Find all our Folkways videos here.

Folkways Stories

Lauren Griffin,Feb. 13, 2024

Yama: A Japanese Community Space In Morgantown, W.Va. 

High Street in Morgantown, West Virginia is a bustling strip of activity. On any given day, university students and locals can be found enjoying the many restaurants, bars and special events that downtown has to offer. Tucked away off the main drag is a place called Yama. It’s a cozy diner that’s been serving up authentic homestyle Japanese food since the 1990s. 

Rachel Moore,Feb. 05, 2024

Heirloom Rice Thrives In Western North Carolina With Help From Hmong Farmers

Western North Carolina is home to one of the largest Hmong populations in the United States. Many Hmong families find ways to honor their culture through food. Tou and Chue Lee, owners of Lee’s One Fortune Farm, are one of those families.

Margaret McLeod Leef,Jan. 30, 2024

Asheville Luthier Honors Family Trade With Environmental Focus

Elizabeth ‘Jayne’ Henderson is a notable luthier who is following in the footsteps of her father, famed guitar builder and musician, Wayne Henderson. Jayne is maintaining the family tradition, but doing it her way.

Mason Adams,Jan. 29, 2024

How Two Rival Football Teams Came Together In A School Consolidation

There’s nothing hotter than a high school sports rivalry. For Mason Adams, that meant the Alleghany Mountaineers versus the Covington Cougars. Adams was a Mountaineer, and beating the Cougars was a top priority in every sport — but especially in football. 

Rebecca Williams,Dec. 25, 2023

Wassailing Helps Singers In Asheville Connect To Ancestral Roots

On a cold December night in Asheville, North Carolina, a group of about 20 people gather on a stranger’s front porch. Some of them have come together for the past decade to celebrate the holidays, build community, and, most important, wassail.

Curren Sheldon,Dec. 13, 2023

Troublesome Creek – Building Instruments As A Form Of Recovery

In the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, jobs are scarce, and an opioid crisis continues to inflict pain throughout the region. But where many see hopelessness, Doug Naselroad, a master luthier from Hindman, Kentucky, sees an opportunity to help those in need.

Lydia Warren,Nov. 28, 2023

Appalachian Square Dance Callers Making The Scene More Welcoming

Square dance calling — the spoken instructions said over the music — makes participation easy. But there are other aspects — like the prevalence of gendered language such as “ladies and gents” — that can make square dancing an unwelcoming or confusing space. One group of friends in the Appalachian square dance scene are taking action to make the tradition more welcoming for all participants.

Lauren Griffin,Nov. 27, 2023

Bluegrass And Old-Time Hopefuls Find A Tune In Spoons

In a classroom in Fairmont, West Virginia, a diverse group of students has gathered to learn how to play an unlikely instrument: the spoons.

Mason Adams,Nov. 27, 2023

The Wild, Woolly World of Appalachian Zines

If you’ve been involved in the punk or art scenes, you might be familiar with zines. A zine, as in magazine, is a self-published pamphlet or brochure, or even a booklet. Some are very low-tech and rudimentary, and others are elaborately designed works of art. They’re all unique, and reflect the people who make them. 

Capri Cafaro,Nov. 20, 2023

Hazard, Kentucky Quilters Reconnecting To Area’s African American Traditions

Quiltmaking is an artform that has been passed down for generations throughout Appalachia. But a few years ago, local community activist Emily Jones Hudson noticed that quilting wasn’t as popular as it once was, particularly in Hazard’s Black community.

Vanessa Peña,Nov. 13, 2023

W.Va. Folklife Apprenticeship Pair Passing On Family Soul Food Traditions

From creamy macaroni and cheese to fried chicken feet, soul food has brought happiness to families and individuals throughout the world. Soul food is typically associated with states in the deep South, but the cooking style is traditional in the Appalachian region, too.

Wendy Welch,Nov. 13, 2023

Appalachian Mushroom Experts Welcome Sprouting Newbies

On an overcast but hot morning, a mushroom hunt began with a car ride to a secret spot near the home of West Virginia master naturalists Shawn Means and Amy McLaughlin. The pair run a boutique vacation rental called Lafayette Flats in Fayetteville, next to the New River Gorge Natural Park and Preserve.

Leeshia Lee,Oct. 23, 2023

Fish Fries Serve As Mutual Aid For Charleston, W.Va.’s Black Community

Drive through Charleston, West Virginia any day of the week, and you’re bound to come across a sign advertising a local fish fry. Within Charleston’s Black community, fish fries have been a time-honored tradition for generations. Our Folkways Fellow Leeshia Lee grew up in Charleston. She says that it was common to see friends and neighbors hosting fish fries — they’d sell fish dinners as a way to raise money for different needs. In this special report, Lee shares her experiences with fish fries, and visits with one of Charleston’s best fish fryers.

Connie Bailey Kitts,Sep. 11, 2023

Tazewell, Virginia Family Keeps Black Poetry Alive For Today’s Generation

For nearly 100 years, Jeanette Wilson’s family has used poetry to share stories of African American life in southwest Virginia. Now those poems are reaching a wider community – and a new generation.

Zack Harold,Sep. 04, 2023

A Family Heirloom, In Your Grocer’s Freezer

In a dining room in a tidy, little house in Charleston, West Virginia, Louis and Sonny Argento introduce us to the Argento family sausage — a recipe that has brought pride and acclaim to their Italian clan for nearly a century.

Mason Adams,Aug. 28, 2023

How A Legendary Virginia Recording Studio Is Changing With The Times

Flat Five Studio has frequently evolved to keep track with the rapidly changing music industry. Now, as a new owner takes the helm, the studio is trying new things while still remaining grounded in the fundamental art of expert music production.

Zack Harold,Aug. 14, 2023

‘Where We Learned About Pepperoni Rolls’ — Uncovering The Story Of the Kanawha County Schools’ Pepperoni Roll

It starts — as all pepperoni rolls do — with the dough. But not just any dough. That’s one of the secrets of Kanawha schools’ pepperoni rolls. They are made using the same recipe as the delicious, soft and sweet hot rolls that accompany every school Thanksgiving dinner and Salisbury steak.

Lauren Griffin +,Aug. 07, 2023

In W.Va., Fur Trappers Adapt To Shifting Market

The price of untanned, or green fur, has been dropping steadily as public opinion and markets have turned away from fur products. Animal welfare groups have advocated against trapping and wearing furs. Supply and demand is also impacted by pop culture and fashion trends. International politics, like the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, interrupt trade routes and impact the ability to sell fur overseas.

Connie Bailey Kitts,Jul. 31, 2023

Ballad Of Muddy Water Endures And Brings Healing

The back-to-back horrific McDowell County floods of 2001 and 2002 were widely reported by print, radio and TV, but these outlets could not tell the story and bring healing like Alan Cathead Johnston’s ballad, Muddy Water, with healing effects that still endure.

Clara Haizlett,Jul. 24, 2023

Sounds Of The Mountains Part 2: Ukrainian Folk Musician Reflects On A Year Of Change 

Last year, Folkways Reporter Clara Haizlett met with Ukrainian tsymbalist Vsevolod Sadovyj over Zoom to understand the connection between the Appalachian hammer dulcimer and a Ukrainian folk instrument called the tsymbaly. At the time they met, it was just a few months after the war in Ukraine started. Haizlett caught up with him again this year to see how he and his family are doing.

Zack Harold,Jul. 03, 2023

Bamboo Fly Rods Are A Tie To Tradition, Made With Hand Tools And Time

When Lee Orr goes fly fishing, he doesn’t haul his rod in one of those racks on the front bumper of his pickup. He doesn’t wedge it into the back seat. He doesn’t throw it in the bed to rattle around with his tackle box and cooler. Orr keeps his fishing rods in a hard plastic case.

Clara Haizlett,Jun. 05, 2023

Tree Syrup Producers Experiment With Techniques And Traditions Amidst A Warming Winter

In late winter in Highland County, Virginia, maple syrup production is a visible part of the landscape. There are maple trees everywhere, adorned with metal buckets and laced with blue tubing.

Margaret McLeod Leef,May. 29, 2023

North Carolina’s Amy Ritchie Shares Her Love For The Art Of Taxidermy

For some people, taxidermy – preserving and mounting dead animals – can seem a little bit creepy. But for others, taxidermy is a serious art form that’s growing in popularity. One expert practitioner in Yadkin County, North Carolina enjoys sharing her work with others.

Zack Harold,May. 22, 2023

Making Faces: Behind A Face Jug’s Grin Lies A Long, Dark History

Folkways Reporter Zack Harold traced the story of Face Jugs. Examples of this type of art turn up everywhere, but some of them are connected to African Face Jugs, an art enslaved people brought with them to America.

Capri Cafaro,Mar. 27, 2023

Potato Candy: Chasing A Taste Memory In West Virginia

Lots of recipes get passed down and shared in Appalachia through handwritten note cards. Sometimes they’re stuffed in little tin boxes, others in loose leaf cookbooks. For the recipient of such a family heirloom, the recipes can be a way to connect with the past. But some of those old recipes don’t use exact measurements. So how do you know you’re getting it right? For Brenda Sandoval in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, it involved some trial and error, and a little help from a cousin.

Zack Harold,Mar. 20, 2023

Charleston’s Hottest Lunch Is A Spicy Eastern European Stew

General Steak and Seafood’s Yugoslavian stew has been a local favorite for 40 years.

Nicole Musgrave,Mar. 06, 2023

In Millstone, KY, Gospel Singers Save The Family Guitar And Find Comfort In Music After The Flood

On July 28, 2022 — the day of the flood — James and Ruby Boggs had about four and a half feet of water rushing through their two-story house. They live in an old coal camp called Millstone. It sits on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, and it was one of the communities hit hard by the flood.

Nicole Musgrave,Feb. 24, 2023

Juan Ríos Serves Up Frijoles Charros In Wellston, Ohio

Juan Ríos grew up in Mexico City where frijoles charros are ubiquitous. Frijoles charros — or charro beans — is a dish that originated in the ranching communities of rural northern Mexico. Growing up, it’s a dish that Ríos ate regularly. Yet when he opened a Mexican restaurant in Wellston over a decade ago, Ríos didn’t include frijoles charros on the menu. But recently, he’s started offering it.

Zack Harold,Feb. 17, 2023

Celebrating W.Va.’s Rail History On A One-87th Scale

Sometime in the 1970s, a group of model railroad enthusiasts in Charleston, West Virginia started getting together at the local Presbyterian Church to talk trains. As the club grew they found a bigger space where they could set up little dioramas for their engines and cars to traverse.

Zack Harold,Jan. 03, 2023

Toy Story Gets A Much Anticipated Sequel

With new owners, the Mountain Craft Shop Co. will bring traditional folk toys to a new generation of kids.

Capri Cafaro,Dec. 30, 2022

Columbus Washboard Company Produces Instruments Aimed To Meet Musicians’ Needs

The Columbus Washboard Company in Logan, Ohio is the last and only washboard factory in the United States. Founded in 1895, the company has more recently adapted its product to meet the varied needs of its customers, many of whom are musicians.

Margaret McLeod Leef,Dec. 23, 2022

Communion Wafers And Apple Butter Inspire Chefs’ Work At Lost Creek Farm

At Lost Creek Farm in Harrison County, West Virginia, husband-and-wife duo Mike Costello and Amy Dawson hone in on the stories behind recipes served at their famed farm-to-table dinners. Including a curious appetizer that's a mashup of two unassuming food traditions from their childhoods.

Connie Bailey Kitts,Dec. 23, 2022

Cookies For A Nativity Fast: Recipe With Ancient History Makes Annual Appearance In Appalachia

To prepare for Christmas, many Orthodox Christians fast for 40 days from eggs, meat and dairy. But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy something a little sweet. Ginny Chryssikos’ melomakarona fasting cookie brings a bit of ancient history to Appalachia.

Rachel Moore,Dec. 09, 2022

Western North Carolina Barn Quilts Represent Community, History

If you’ve ever driven in a rural area, you may have seen a wooden quilt block hanging on the side of a barn. There might just be a story behind that block.

Zack Harold,Nov. 25, 2022

New Book Explores History Of West Virginia Hot Dogs

“Making Our Future” by former West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard dives deep into the niches of Mountain State culture, from songs of the labor movement to the history of hot dogs. The book was released on Nov. 22, 2022.

Nicole Musgrave,Nov. 18, 2022

Gospel Musician In Millstone, Kentucky Tries To Salvage Family’s Flood-Ravaged Music Equipment

On July 28, communities all over southeast Kentucky were hit with unprecedented flooding. People lost homes, cars, family photos. Many musicians lost instruments, and that meant they couldn’t participate in cultural traditions that define their lives. But through the generosity of community members, some musicians have been able to reconnect with their music practice, finding comfort and even joy.

Zack Harold,Nov. 04, 2022

New Podcast Takes Up Snake Handling Churches — But Leaves Behind The Stereotypes

Folkways reporter Zack Harold interviews musician, songwriter, painter and former preacher Abe Partridge about his podcast “Alabama Astronaut,” which chronicles the world of Appalachian snake handling churches and the unique genre of music found within their walls.

Leeshia Lee,Oct. 21, 2022

Funeral Singer Provides Comfort And Healing To Charleston, W.Va.’s Black Community

For many Black communities throughout the country, music is an essential component of end-of-life rituals. When a loved one dies, families often call upon a skilled singer to perform at a funeral as a way to offer comfort and healing. In Charleston, West Virginia 41-year-old Michelle Dyess is one of the go-to singers that people request when it’s time to plan a funeral.

Connie Bailey Kitts,Sep. 28, 2022

Country Ham Caprese And Cheesy Eggrolls: Virginia Barbecue Restaurant Serves Up Community-Inspired Dishes

People love to argue over which barbecue sauce is most authentic — vinegar, tomato or mustard. But Cuz’s Uptown Barbeque in Tazewell County, Virginia, is distinguished by something entirely different.

Zack Harold,Sep. 27, 2022

Charleston Company Launches Butcher Apprenticeship In Move To Keep Meat Local

Breakdowns in the food supply chain from suppliers to our grocery stores have raised concerns and increased prices. Buzz Food Service in Charleston is trying to alleviate some of that in our region by training new, local butchers. Folkways reporter Zack Harold has the story.

Nicole Musgrave,Sep. 25, 2022

In Kingsport, TN, Jerry Machen Sr. Passes Down The Art Of Carpet Design And Repair

Lots of people live with common household objects like furniture, silverware, and rugs. But for many of us, we seldom think about who makes these items, or where to turn when they’re in need of repair. One man in Kingsport, Tennessee has been building and repairing carpets and rugs for over 50 years. For Jerry Machen Sr., the business not only provides him with a livelihood, but also an outlet for expressing creativity and an opportunity for discovery.

Mason Adams,Sep. 23, 2022

Floyd's Friday Night Jamboree Builds Community From Music

People from all walks of life travel from Roanoke, Blacksburg and places far beyond to reach Floyd, Virginia — a one-stoplight town in a sprawling county of about 15,000 people on the Blue Ridge Plateau. It’s home to the Friday Night Jamboree at the Floyd Country Store.

Clara Haizlett,Sep. 06, 2022

Between The Worlds: A Lost Bird In Appalachia

In the late 1950s, the federal government established a program called the "Indian Adoption Project.” Throughout the nearly decade-long initiative, hundreds of native children were removed from their communities and placed with white families. The children were called “lost birds.” Lena Welker, now 66, was one of them.

Zack Harold,Aug. 26, 2022

Wheeling Is Crazy For Cold Cheese Pizza. But Which Restaurant Serves The Best Slice?

People in Wheeling, West Virginia are passionate about their pizza. That’s because an accident of history led to a new style. Consider it Appalachia’s contribution to America’s great regional pizza traditions. And it goes by the name “DiCarlo’s Famous.”

Clara Haizlett,Aug. 12, 2022

Sounds Of The Mountains Part 1: Appalachian And Ukrainian Musicians ‘Play Their History’

You might be familiar with a traditional instrument called the mountain or lap dulcimer. But there’s another, lesser-known dulcimer in Appalachia called the hammer dulcimer. It’s a bigger, stationary instrument that isn’t related to the lap dulcimer at all. In fact, it’s a relative of a Ukrainian instrument called the tsymbaly.

Margaret McLeod Leef,Aug. 12, 2022

West Virginia Beekeepers Say Their Tradition Is About More Than The Honey

People in West Virginia get into beekeeping for all sorts of reasons: to protect the pollinators, to make lip balm and other beeswax products, and of course, they do it for the honey. Regardless of what brings people to beekeeping, there’s a vast network of support—both formal and informal—to help people learn the craft.

Connie Bailey Kitts,Jul. 19, 2022

Descendant Revisits, Revives African American Cemetery

America has a history of segregating Black and white people — in restaurants, schools, buses… even in death. In Bluefield, Virginia, graves of Black residents who helped build the town were neglected for decades in its segregated cemetery. It might have stayed that way had it not been for the efforts of one persistent woman whose family was buried there.

Mason Adams,Jul. 13, 2022

Real-Life Outlaw Otto Wood Went Viral In The Thirties

In the early 1930s, the way for a story to go “viral” was by being sung about in a ballad. That’s what happened to Otto Wood, a real-life outlaw who grew up around Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He spent time with the Hatfields of southern West Virginia, became a famous moonshiner, and died in a shootout with police in 1930. Less than one year later, his story was told in the ballad “Otto Wood The Bandit,” recorded by Walker Kid and the Carolina Buddies.

Clara Haizlett,Mar. 14, 2022

Cryptids, Local Food, Artwork Celebrated In W.Va. Board Game

Mothman’s been sighted again in West Virginia. And he’s looking for a meal. He’s part of a new board game that features cryptids and local West Virginia food. Jared Kaplan and Chris Kincaid of Beckley, West Virginia created the game called “…

Zack Harold,Dec. 05, 2021

A Champion Guitar Player Continues the Family Legacy While Handing the Music Down

If you know one thing about the Newport Folk Festival, it’s probably this:In 1965, folk wonder boy Bob Dylan took the stage with an all-electric band. He changed the course of rock music forever, but also enraged some traditionalists in the process. Pete Seeger was ap…

Clara Haizlett +,Dec. 03, 2021

Ethiopian And Eritrean Immigrants Bring A Piece Of Home To Moorefield With Traditional Coffee Ceremony

Moorefield, West Virginia, is home to about 3,300 people — about one in 10 are immigrants. That includes a small community from Eritrea and Ethiopia. Many of them work at the chicken processing plant in town, Pilgrim’s Pride. The hours there are long and don’t leave much time for socializing. Still, members of that East African community continue to practice a tradition they’ve brought from home: the coffee ceremony. Folkways reporter Clara Haizlett brings us this story, with help from former West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard.

Zack Harold,Oct. 22, 2021

At This W.Va. Steelpan Drum Company, A Visionary’s Beat Goes On

It takes about 40 hours of hammering to turn a steel drum into a steelpan drum. Although originally meant to hold oil, shampoo or ketchup, the metal tube becomes an instrument uniquely capable of evoking island breezes and a slower pace of life. And believe it or not, th…

Heather Duncan,Jul. 30, 2021

Singing The News: Ballads Tell A Tale Of Community

“Hang down your head, Tom Dooly. Hang down your head and cry. Hang down your head, Tom Dooly. Poor boy, you’re bound to die.” …

Laura Harbert Allen,Jul. 08, 2021

Sustainably Harvesting Ramps Also Supports Clay County Community

On a bright, sunny day in mid May, my mom pulled up on a gravel road near H.E. White Elementary School in Bomont, West Virginia. A man was waiting, and he stepped up to the driver’s side.“Are you looking for ramps?” he asked.“We sure are,” she replied….

Clara Haizlett,Jul. 02, 2021

Navigating Wood, Whitewater And The Art Of Paddle Making

This story is part of a recent episode of Inside Appalachia. …

Zack Harold,Jul. 02, 2021

Welder Keeps Old Clocks Ticking

This story is part of a recent episode of Inside Appalachia. …

Zack Harold,May. 20, 2021

A New Generation Takes Up A Tomato Tradition

Dean Williams can’t park his Subaru Outback in his garage anymore. He’s turned that space in his Huntington, West Virginia home into a makeshift tomato nursery.Dozens of baby tomato plants stick out of plastic pots filled with Pro-Mix seed-starting soil. Those pots …

Zack Harold,Apr. 26, 2021

Retired Miner Makes Traditional Cream Pull Candy

Traditional Appalachian pull candy — sometimes called cream pull candy or Kentucky pull candy — is known for two things: its buttery, melt-in-your mouth flavor and the painstaking process required to make the stuff.The candy must include exact ratios of all the ingr…

New Storytellers Join Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Corps

Four new journalists, folklorists and a chief editor are teaming up with several returning Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Corps members to share even more fascinating stories that explore the region's rich cultural heritage and help break Appalachian stereotypes.

Hand Pies: Appalachian Chefs Give Global Food a Local Twist

Fried apple pies, empanadas, Cornish pasties, and samosas are all products of different food traditions, but they share something in common: they’re all hand pies.A hand pie is a simply constructed “pocket food” made of a filling wrapped in dough. Hand pies can be…

Trevor McKenzie,Dec. 17, 2020

Finding the Alleghany Sound

More than a few families with strong musical traditions call Appalachia home. West Virginia alone has the Hammons and the Kessingers, talented kin known worldwide as bearers of musical traditions. But, for Lucas Pasley, a fiddler, banjo player and singer-songwriter from Allegh…

Mason Adams,Sep. 25, 2020

Monster Mash: Virginia's 'Dinosaur Kingdom' Mixes Art And Absurdity

Appalachia is a tourist destination for people around the world, from the Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood, to the Mothman Museum and statue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Natural Bridge, a limestone arch at the southern end of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, has pulled …

Connie Bailey Kitts,Sep. 17, 2020

Generational Love for Little Green Apple Keeps Heirloom From Disappearing

Known for its distinct sour taste when it first ripens, and its creamy applesauce when it matures, an heirloom apple with Russian roots still grows in Appalachia. Generations of southwest Virginians and West Virginians have kept these trees alive for more than a century. The grow…

Heather Niday,Aug. 14, 2020

Save The Forest, Get Paid: This Appalachian Farming Initiative Shows People How

Ginseng, Goldenseal, Cohosh, Bloodroot, Ramps – all plants native to Appalachia and all appreciated around the world for their medicinal and culinary properties. In West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia, these plants have been harvested in the wild for generations. But…

Brains And Bucks: Appalachian Women Continue Hide-Tanning Tradition

In a quiet neighborhood in southeast Ohio, Talcon Quinn and her 12-year-old apprentice Juniper Ballew have revived an age-old tradition with just three ingredients: a deer skin, some water and a handful of animal brains. They have transformed a hairy, fleshy animal skin into b…

Kelley Libby,Jul. 10, 2020

A Singing Tradition That’s Persevered Hundreds Of Years Continues During Pandemic

Shape-note singing has deep roots in Appalachia and the American south. Popular first in 18th and 19th-century New England, shape-note singing is a tradition that relies on group participation. But what happens when groups can’t get together and sing? In a special report exp…

Caitlin Tan,Jun. 26, 2020

Old-Time Music Connects Wales And Appalachia Despite Thousands Of Miles

As part of our Inside Appalachia folkways project, we have been exploring Appalachia’s unique connection to Wales. Both regions mountainous landscapes, a history of coal extraction, folktales and it turns out, music. There is a growing community of musicians from…

Jordan Lovejoy,Jun. 27, 2020

Choreography of Light and Glass — W.Va.’s Professional Dance Company

The West Virginia Dance Company, based out of Beckley, W.Va., often performs dances that tell stories about social or cultural topics in the Appalachian region. One of their recent performance pieces, …

Rachel Greene,May. 29, 2020

Cherokee Artists Hold Family, Land And Community In Handmade Baskets

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have been making baskets for centuries. While it is an old artform, basket makers are resilient — adapting to changes not only in their craft, but their traditions to…

Caitlin Tan,May. 29, 2020

Folktales And Music Bring To Life The W.Va., Welsh Connection

Before the pandemic hit, our Inside Appalachia team was planning a reporting trip to Wales as part of our ongoing folkways project, as the country has a strong historical connection to Appalachia that we wanted to explore. The trip’s been postponed, but in a special r…

Music Comes Naturally To Son Of Hammons Legends

The Hammons Family of Pocahontas County, West Virginia are known around the world for their distinctive old-time music that reflects the early Appalachian frontier of West Virginia.  Nine members of the Hammons clan, Edden, Pete, Maggie, Sherman, Burl, Lee, Currence, Mint…

Nicole Musgrave,May. 01, 2020

Appalachian Labor Songs And Punk Rock Converge In KY Youth Empowerment

Girls Rock Whitesburg in Whitesburg, Kentucky is a music camp for female, gender-fluid, non-binary, and trans youth. Over the course of a week campers learn an electric instrument, form a band and write songs. At the end, they perform in front of a live audience. While the cam…

Caitlin Tan,Apr. 30, 2020

Homemaking On The Homestead: Here's How A W.Va. Farming Family Is Handling The Pandemic

Just outside Fayetteville, West Virginia, there’s a 42-acre farm that has just about everything — chickens, lambs, sheep, produce and dogs. The latest addition is a litter of Great Pyrenees puppies, who will become guardian dogs for the sheep.Christine Weirick owns and…

New Folkways Reporting Corps Is Ready To Shine A Light On Arts And Culture

CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Despite social distancing limitations that meant reimagining an in-person training for the Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Corps Project, 12 storytellers are now off and running (from a safe distance, of course) to gather and share unique stories of …

Caitlin Tan,Apr. 10, 2020

‘Sowing Seeds Of Love’: One West Virginian’s Project To Combat Hunger

When Brady Walker first learned that some people go hungry, without a meal, he was four years old. And unlike most kids his age, he decided to take action.Brady lives in Mercer County, W.Va., but he had a family friend named Ursula Candasamy, who has since passed away, …

Caitlin Tan,Apr. 10, 2020

How Appalachian Tradition And Gardening Are Getting Some West Virginians Through The Pandemic

As the number of coronavirus cases have quickly grown across the nation, including in West Virginia, leaving the house has become increasingly discouraged. In fact, the White House Coronavirus Task Force …

Caitlin Tan,Apr. 08, 2020

Q&A: Tamarack Foundation Stresses Importance Of Art During Social Distancing

In March, West Virginia saw 90,000 unemployment claims. In a typical month the state averages 5,000. According to the …

Caitlin Tan,Apr. 07, 2020

A Return To Baking During Coronavirus Pandemic

Kerri Namolik lives in Shepherdstown, W.Va. with her husband and two daughters. She is an assistant professor for Blue Ridge Community and Technical College and is working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. But like many parents, she has also found hers…

Caitlin Tan,Mar. 26, 2020

Artists You've Heard Before, What Social Distancing Looks Like For Them

For the past two years, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia team has been working on a folkways project that focuses on artisans and craftsmen within Appalachia.For many of these people, their art or craft is their primary income, and a lot of them d…

Caitlin Tan,Mar. 20, 2020

W.Va. And Welsh Students Swap Audio Diaries

For the past few months, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia Folkways Project has cultivated a connection between two groups …

Storyteller Uses Song To Inspire Children To Learn About Nature

These days, kids are spending less time exploring the outdoors and more time in front of screens.A 2019 report by the independent non-profit …

Lalena Price,Mar. 13, 2020

Inside Appalachia Announces Second-Year Folkways Corps

West Virginia Public Broadcasting has selected 13 storytellers to be a part of the second year of its Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Project.The project expands the reporting of the Inside Appalachia team to include more stories from West Virginia, as well as expa…

Caitlin Tan,Feb. 21, 2020

Preserving The Homemade Music Of West Virginia's Hollows

Old-time music is a large part of West Virginia’s heritage – it is the folk music of the state. And although it has now gained the popularity of people from all over the world, hundreds of years ago it was isolated within Appalachian communities. However, as it gains tract…

A Little Daytona In Ona

Ona, West Virginia is a town with two stop lights, but it’s also a place where legends are made. Greg Sigler has been racing at Ona Speedway for nearly two decades. But today, he’s coaching his 15-year-old son, Cole, from the sidelines, using a headset that let…

Tinkering As A Family Tradition: Restoring Vintage Cars In Roanoke

On any given Friday night, a parade of customized cars and trucks cruise from north to south and back again on Williamson Road in Roanoke, Virginia. Modified with neon lights, spinning rims and streamlined spoilers, these vehicles do not necessarily scream “folk …

Caitlin Tan,Feb. 14, 2020

One Appalachian Potter's Twist On The Craft: Digging Clay

In rural Preston County, West Virginia, potter Mel Sword’s house is located at the end of a gravel road, near a road called “Wildflower Way” and a creek that feeds into the Cheat River. His home nestles rolling fields of green grass, and behind that are mounds of dirt, clay …

Caitlin Tan,Jan. 31, 2020

The Hütte: A Melting Pot Of Swiss, Appalachian Culture

Deep within the mountains of central West Virginia, is a tiny village called Helvetia. It was originally founded by Swiss settlers in the mid-1800s, as they felt the steep mountains, thick forests, winding river, all resembled their homeland.Today t…

Rachel Greene,Jan. 17, 2020

Generation After Generation: Ashe County Seed Savers Preserve Heirloom Seeds, Appalachian History

In Appalachia, organizations like seed libraries and community gardens are helping to save traditional heirloom vegetables from being lost. Sometimes, the seeds are found in unexpected places like when Travis Birdsell visited the barn of an Ashe County farmer in 2017. T…

Caitlin Tan,Jan. 11, 2020

W.Va. Hunters Return To Historical Roots

West Virginia’s Mountaineer Heritage Hunting season began Jan 9, two weeks after most hunting seasons have closed. It is the second year since its conception, and most notably, it is limited to primitive weapons – like flintlock muzzle loader rifles. …

Caitlin Tan,Jan. 03, 2020

How WVU’s Mascot Has Influenced Generations of West Virginians

West Virginia University’s mascot, the Mountaineer, is a big deal in the state. In fact, fans are called ‘Mountaineer Nation.’ West Virginians have long identified with the mascot as it symbolizes independence, strength and curiosity — a true frontiersman attitude. 

Zack Harold,Dec. 20, 2019

Wetzel County Workshop Keeps Folk Toys Alive

  When I was a kid, the thing that intrigued me most about Santa wasn’t the beard, or the flying reindeer, or the repeated breaking and entering. No — I was fascinated by his workshop. I loved to imagine the elves working tirelessly to make toys that would end up…

Caitlin Tan,Dec. 11, 2019

W.Va. Artist Repurposes Flea Market Finds, Reflects On Rust Belt

Flea markets are a common feature across rural landscapes, especially in Appalachia. If you have never been, there is typically something for everyone, and one West Virginian artist is turning the unique finds into art. “Sometimes it’s the imagery. A portion of…

Zack Harold,Nov. 22, 2019

W.Va. Campground Preserving Appalachian-Born Style Of Sacred Music That Is Quickly Being Forgotten

There’s a place in southern West Virginia that many consider holy ground. For nearly 70 years, gospel music fans have gathered on this mountaintop just south of Summersville Lake for weekend concerts featuring singers from all over West Virginia and its surrounding states….

Caitlin Tan,Oct. 25, 2019

The W.Va. Monster That Crept Into International Pop Culture

West Virginia folklore includes many alien and monster-like characters, such as Mothman, Big Foot and the Yeti. One such monster has made a big resurgence in the past few years, becoming a part of the state’s pop culture. This story is part of a Halloween episode of …

Nicole Musgrave,Sep. 28, 2019

Possum In Kentucky Artist's Mural Reveals Complicated Connection To Marsupial's Symbolism

Scavenger. Trash animal. Chicken killer. Hero. People here in Appalachia have lots of feelings when it comes oppossums — or “possums” as some people call them. A town in Harlan County, Kentucky found this out first-hand when they decided to feature a poss…

Love And Tradition Passed Down Through A Guitar

Mill Point is a blink-and-you’ll miss it wide spot off the twisty mountain roads of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.  It’s also the home of Bill Hefner, a luthier who isn’t just making guitars, he’s passing his tradition of meticulous craftmanship down to the next genera…

How Fly Fishing Saved a Veteran's Life

Army veteran Kyle Chanitz spent two and a half years deployed in Afghanistan, where he saw intense fighting and suffered concussions that led to seizures. When he returned to the U.S., he started taking college classes, but then dropped out to follow the jam band Phish around …

Caitlin Tan,Aug. 15, 2019

Students Adapt Old Time Appalachian Story Telling Technique

This summer in Morgantown, elementary school students had access to  a special summer art camp series almost every week.Last week, students learned a  story telling art form rooted in Appalachian tradition called crankies. Crankies are also sometimes called mo…

Eric Douglas,Jun. 17, 2019

Craft Brewers Work With Farmers For Unique Ingredients

Craft breweries are popping up all over the region. In West Virginia alone, there are 27 breweries and three quarters of them opened in the last five years.Sam Fonda, from Weat…