Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Zander Aloi, Rebecca Williams, Randy Yohe, Capri Cafaro Published

Wassailing, Folk Art And Grandma’s Potato Candy, Inside Appalachia

Six adults stand together holding sheet music. They are singing.
Saro Lynch-Thomason (third from left) leads the wassailers in rehearsal. One of the songs the group performed, the “Boar’s Head Carol” was first published in 1521.
Rebecca Williams/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, we go a-wassailing in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s kind of like Christmas caroling, with a kick.

We also visit Kentucky’s Minnie Adkins. She’s had a long career as a folk artist, which began with a pocket knife. 

And, family recipes bring generations together. But what happens when you’ve got grandma’s potato candy recipe, and it doesn’t have exact measurements? 

You’ll hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Here We Go A-Wassailing

Carolers gathering on a porch in the evening. White Christmas lights are seen all around.
Wassailers gather on a porch in the Montford neighborhood of Asheville, North Carolina in December 2022. It was customary in England and Wales for wassailers to be offered food and drink in exchange for singing.

Credit: Rebecca Williams/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s the time of year when merrymakers roam the streets to sing and bring good cheer. In Asheville, North Carolina, one group of friends has taken up the English tradition of wassailing to connect to their roots.

Folkways Reporter Rebecca Williams has this story.

A Visit With A Matriarch Of Folk Art

An elderly woman smiles and holds up two wooden art pieces.
Whittler Minnie Adkins.

Credit: Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Minnie Adkins has elevated whittling to an art. In fact, some people have even described the 89-year-old Kentucky woodcarver as “the matriarch of Appalachian Folk Art.” But Adkins? She says she’s just a whittler.

Randy Yohe sat down with Adkins to talk with her about her craft.

Reverse Engineering Grandma’s Candy

An older woman leans over a bowl of potato candy.
Brenda Sandoval testing the consistency of the potato mixture.

Credit: Capri Cafaro/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Treasured family recipes get passed down, but not all of these old recipes used standard measurements. So how do you know you’re getting the mix right, especially if you’ve never tried it? 

For Brenda Sandoval in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, an old family recipe involved some trial and error – and an assist from a cousin. Folkways Reporter Capri Cafaro has more.

Story Wars

Over the holidays, lots of people break out the party games. West Virginia native Harrison Reishman has developed a card game he’s hoping becomes a favorite at your next get-together. It’s called Story Wars, where players try to come up with the wildest, craziest story. Bill Lynch has more. 


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by The Sycomores, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Cappella Bell Choir and Bob Thompson. Special thanks to Roxy Todd for recording Jim Bartlett playing the pipe organ with an assortment of goats.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.