Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Zack Harold, Nicole Musgrave, Capri Cafaro, Clara Haizlett Published

The Love Of Competition, Inside Appalachia

Two people stand side by side cutting mushrooms. A sign behind them reads "Mushroom Stage."
Tina Caroland (left) and her aunt, Jen Collins (right), demonstrate how to fry morels at the Mountain Mushroom Festival. Most of Caroland’s family has participated in the festival over the years. One year, when her papaw was still alive, five generations of Caroland’s family shared about their experiences hunting and cooking morels.
Nicole Musgrave/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Appalachians love to compete. Whether it’s rec league softball, a turkey calling contest or workplace chili cookoffs… Mountain folks are in it to win it.

But there’s more to competing than just winning or losing. In this show, we’ll also meet competitors who are also keepers of beloved Appalachian traditions.

In This Episode:

Musgrave Reports From The Mountain Mushroom Festival

Tina Caroland shows off a morel mushroom at the Mountain Mushroom Festival in Irvine, Kentucky. Caroland has demonstrated how to fry morels at the festival for about 15 years. She purchased morels for this year’s cooking demonstration because Caroland and her family were slow to find morels at the start of this season. Credit: Nicole Musgrave/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Each spring, people take to the woods in search of morels, a seasonal favorite throughout Appalachia, and they inspire all kinds of competition.  

Folkways Reporter Nicole Musgrave went to the Mountain Mushroom Festival in Irvine, Kentucky and found people looking for the most mushrooms — the biggest mushrooms — and the tastiest way to EAT mushrooms.   

An Accident Of Appalachian History Led To A New Style of Pizza

Ever live in a place where there’s a competition between two restaurants, and people sort of decide which team they’re on?

Folkways Reporter Zack Harold says people in Wheeling, West Virginia are passionate about their pizza. That’s because an accident of history led to a new style and a who’s better/who’s best contest that’s been going on for decades. 

In Wheeling, West Virginia, people are passionate about their pizza. People there say that an accident of history led to a new style of pizza – Appalachia’s contribution to America’s great regional pizza traditions. Folkways Reporter Zack Harold visited DiCarlo’s Famous Pizza to find out more. Credit: Zack Harold/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Brave Kids Continue Eisteddfod Tradition

Eisteddfod is probably not a word that rolls off the tongue of everyone in Appalachia.  But in Wales, it refers to a traditional music competition that goes back nearly 1,000 years. Immigrants brought the tradition to southern Ohio, where it/s endured for generations. Thanks in part…to some brave kids. Folkways Reporter Capri Cafaro has this story.

Playing To Eat And Eating To Play

Another competitive tradition that’s endured for generations is weekly board game night. Whether with family or friends, we play Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, and sometimes even Candyland. 

Folkways Reporter Clara Haizlett reported on a board game that matches West Virginia’s favorite cryptids with some of its favorite places to eat.

A Southern Ohio Town Honors The Appalachian Connection To The NFL

Appalachia’s connection to professional football has always been a little loose. Lots of pro players have come out of Appalachia, but there’s really only one Appalachian NFL team – the Pittsburgh Steelers, or two if you count the Atlanta Falcons, as a listener recently argued we should.

It turns out, at least one other professional team has Appalachian DNA – the Detroit Lions. That franchise began as the Portsmouth Spartans in Portsmouth, Ohio, just across the river from Kentucky.

Sports fan and WVPB reporter Randy Yohe has this story.


What about you? What kind of competitions are happening in your neck of the woods? Maybe you know about a sport or contest we’ve never heard about. Or someone there makes pizza like nobody else. Tell us about it. (Contact details below!)

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Charlie McCoy, The Steel Drivers, Larry Groce, David Mayfield, and Dean Martin.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.