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- [Narrator] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at tntrailsandbyways.com. - [Narrator 2] You can't predict the future, but you can count on Tennessee Tech, always putting students first. Our faculty, staff, and students have shown strength, compassion, patience, and kindness during these trying times. For us, it's personal. That's what you can count on at Tennessee Tech. - [Joe] This time on Tennessee crossroads, we head to a back alley barbecue discovery in Dickson. Then explore the arts and crafts loop in Gatlinburg. You'll see what to expect at the upcoming Middle Tennessee Highland games, and finally explore the middle Tennessee museum of natural history. A naturally good show, I think. I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome again to Tennessee Crossroads. We all know the legends of country songs being written and record deals being cut in the back alleys of music city. But did you ever think that some of the best barbecue you've ever tasted would come from a back alley? In our first story, Miranda Cohen visits a place in Dickson. That's serving up legendary smoked meats and sides from, well, you guessed it. The back alley. - [Miranda] When you walk into the back alley barbecue in Dickson, the aroma is unmistakable. Pitmaster Justin Reynolds is manning the pits, overseeing every detail of the smoker's indirect flames. It may not be the fastest or easiest way to cook, but he wouldn't do it any other way. - [Justin] I think it's the smell, that smokey smell, that tender meat. It just looks good. All those colors. Everybody's mouth waters when you say barbecue, or if you smell smoke. I don't care how full I am. If I smell a little smoke, I'm like, hm, what's cooking? It smells good. It's very comforting. Slow cooked food seems to have that deeper flavor. - [Miranda] Reynolds perfected his barbecue style years ago, winning over a loyal following and his beautiful wife along the way. - [Justin's Wife] I know I'm a little biased, but all of his recipes come from family handed down recipes, his mom and his grandmother, and he's tweaked him a little bit. And then all of his sauces and rubs are straight from him. They're not duplicated from anybody else, so he kind of makes everything from scratch. - [Miranda] And the catchy name started when this location on East College Street was once a gas station, and the very young Reynolds sold his barbecue in the back alley. And soon, everyone in Dickson knew if you wanted the very best barbecue you had to head to the Back Alley. - [Justin] And the name just kind of stuck. And I found this spot and I thought we'll make it, you know, we'll make it work. I like the name. - [Miranda] Now this spacious eatery is comforting and welcoming. The friendly staff usually knows your name and exactly what you're going to order. Even the art reflects the Reynolds' love of family and their community. - [Justin's Wife] Anything that's hanging has something to do with either the county, the building, or our family in some way. - [Miranda] The back alley serves up brisket, pulled pork, chicken, ribs, and much more. And the daily specials, well, the faithfuls know them by heart. - [Customer] We never miss a Friday cause it's ribs, it's ribs day. This place is amazing. The food is incredible. The smoke on the food, on the brisket, on the ribs and the pulled pork unbelievable. The half chickens. We come here about three times a week. - [Miranda] And even though barbecue styles are a hotly debated topic here in the south, it's difficult to describe Reynold's style, except for saying it's delicious, tender and cooked to perfection. And the chef is not giving away any secrets. - [Justin] It's mainly dry. I don't wrap or mop anything until the end. Well, I do mop during the process, but I don't, I guess it's more of a dry style barbecue, but not really. I don't know, to answer your question. I didn't learn a style or a flavor from anybody. So I guess it's my style. It's my flavor. It's what I wanted it to taste like. You let me know what style you think it is. - [Miranda] Fair enough. - [Justin] No, it took a while to actually dial it in. It's probably about three years of just trial and error, playing around. And I just figured if I liked it, surely you're gonna like it. It does have the sweet and the vinegar. I like balsamic. I like apple cider. I like worcestershire. I like salt and sweet. So it's, it's got all those. It hits all those notes. - [Miranda] Chef Justin won't exactly admit the secret to his great barbecue, whether it's dry rub or sauce. In fact, his barbecue is so good, it doesn't need a lot of sauce, but just in case you love it, you can have hot or mild. - [Justin] There's a mild version and we just kicked it up a notch on the hot version. Same flavor profile, just a little more heat. - [Customer 2] And then he's really got his smokers dialed in as well too. I think that's a big talent that kind of separates a lot of people. Not really just the quality of the meat. He does have great quality meat, but it's a, how dialed in do you have your smokers? And you know, do you have it down to a system? And he does, for sure. - [Miranda] Wife Amber is quietly making sure everything runs smoothly in the front of the house and handling their growing catering service, allowing her husband to concentrate on the smoke and the flames. - [Justin] She allows me to focus on what I do best, which is just cook the meat and make sure the food tastes good. - [Justin's Wife] Every piece of meat that comes through the restaurant, he's had his hands on. He's very particular about the food and the quality that goes out because it's our name and that's important to him. I am always amazed at his work ethic and just how much he puts into the restaurant, how much he loves it. And he loves those that are here. And we take care of our, our employees like they're our family. - [Miranda] The staff at the Back Alley can offer lots of advice. Choosing your barbecue may not be the hardest choice you have to make. They have a huge array of homemade family recipes, Southern sides, to round out your plate. - [Justin's Wife] And then just our sides, all the sides, normal, good Southern food, but just green beans, corn pudding is one that you don't see very often. We get a lot of compliments on it. It's delicious. - [Customer 3] The cornbread is phenomenal. I've never had cornbread like this. Corn Pudding's great. Slaw's great. It's a great place. - [Miranda] Great Southern fair cooked with love and tradition every day. Made from the heart, served in the back alley right in the center of downtown. - Thanks Miranda. The search for locally created art is a passion for many people and one of the best places to find it is in Gatlinburg. Well, actually it's an area just beyond the city. And as Laura Faber shows us, it's a step back in time where everything is handcrafted. - [Laura] There is a lot of history in the dark blue and green hills of the Smokey Mountains. History that has migrated down the mountain. Nestled on an eight mile loop at the base of the park outside Gatlinburg is a community that draws visitors from all over the world. Shop after shop, you'll find artists, some of whom come from families who have lived in these parts for generations. The early artists came from the mountains, moved into Gatlinburg to make money from their handcrafted items, but settled just outside the city in an area known as The Glades. It's here that you can find the great smoky arts and crafts community, the largest artisan center in the country. - [Woods] When they had the world's fair in Knoxville, that brought a lot of visitors to east Tennessee. I think that more prominently pushed a spotlight on the mountains and Gatlinburg in general, they actually had millions of visitors come into the area from the world's fair. I mean that would've pushed the artisan idea a little bit more at this quiet side that you could kind of get away from the hustle and bustle of everything downtown. - [Laura] Now, 80 years old, the community has grown to more than 100 artists and craftsman who have shops along the loop. Woods Hipensteel is a ninth generation artist here. He paints, as does his dad, Vern, whose work has been collected here since the sixties. - [Woods] This community represents the cultural side of Gatlinburg. The national park service does do a fair job of teaching people about the people that actually, you know, are from this area. The first established people in this area. But the fact that Gatlinburg, you know, it doesn't represent the people of Gatlinburg as much as the arts and crafts community does. This represents what the people were like before modernization. The people that used their hands to make a living. - [Laura] Since 1976, Otto Preskey has been making his living with his hands here on the great smokey arts and craft loop. - [Otto] This is a mountain man mantle. This is basswood, and it's just a different mantle because he is hanging down from the mantle part instead of being above it. - [Laura] At 79 years old, he uses tools to shape and carve incredible pieces of woodwork. - [Otto] I got started carving when I was a boy scout, and I did study art a little bit. I met a wood carver from Europe, from Portugal that showed me how to use the tools. I was a commercial artist for about 13 years and ended up working at one of the larger advertising agencies in Evansville, Indiana where I'm from. And then we came down here and on vacation several times and saw the craft community out here. - [Laura] Otto and his wife live upstairs above the shop. He loves the comradery of the community and has no plans to stop working with wood. - [Otto] It's one thing neat about having a shop like this. I have literally met people from all over the world in here. It's amazing because not only am I doing what I like to do, but I'm not in good old cubicle, like I was in the head of studio. I'm out talking with people. - Probably one of the most special things about this arts loop is its diversity. You can find anything here from concrete works of art to stuffed bears, dulcimers, ceramics, paintings, glass, you name it, t's here. A little further up the loop, class is in session. - [Nancy] Good morning guys. I hear you want to create something in glass. - [Laura] Nancy Hoff is an artist who specializes in fused glass. - [Nancy] Glass that's been melted in a kiln at about 1400 degrees or higher made into different projects. - [Laura] Nancy creates her pieces by carefully placing bits of glass onto a base piece and using heat to fuse it together. Vases, jewelry, night lights, dishes, sun catchers. The work is gorgeous. Originally from Gatlinburg, Nancy's dad grew up in the house that is now her Firefly glass studio and gallery. After a 25 year career elsewhere as a mortgage loan officer, the lure of the arts community, and home, drew her back. - Think it's just special because we're kind of all concentrated. It's just a, it's a simple eight mile loop and people can go from place to place and they can find literally any form of art in this one eight mile loop. - [Laura] Not only can you find and buy art, but you can actually make your own like the Helsinger family from Ohio. The whole create your own experience is fairly new to the loop. Nancy was one of the first to offer it, but now many other artists offer a chance to experience what they do. - [Nancy] As I started it back in the spring of 2017, after our fires that previous November, it got really slow. Social media kind of told people, Gatlinburg burnt to the ground. I was like, well, I don't wanna go back into the workforce. So what can I do? And I had a actual lean-to building out with two picnic tables underneath it and started taking some of my scrap glass out there and asking people if they wanted to make their own item. And it has just exploded. Last year alone, 600 pieces went outta here. - [Laura] Whether you choose to let your own creative juices flow or just browse and buy, spending a day on this eight mile loop is a perfect way to see a different side of Gatlinburg. - [Woods] I have people that have visited this area, their entire lives, and they didn't know that the arts and crafts community existed. So it's important not only to educate people that we exist, but also to show them, you know, there is something outside of Gatlinburg that represents this very beautiful, idealistic version of what Gatlinburg used to be. We're not just a tourism town with flashing lights. We have some incredibly handmade items, even to see the arts and crafts loop, the beauty, the natural beauty of this area. Hopefully people will come and visit us just as much as they want to come and visit the mountains. - Many thanks Laura. Many Tennesseans claim Scottish heritage, including our old friend, Susan Watson. Now a while back, she braved the summer heat to attend an event where people come together to learn, appreciate and preserve Scottish and other Celtic cultures. It's called the Middle Tennessee Highland games. - [Susan] The unmistakable and iconic sound of Scottish bagpipes fills the air and stirs the senses. And if you hadn't already guessed, the Highland games are as much a celebration of culture as they are sporting event. For many in attendance, the Middle Tennessee Highland games are like one big family reunion. - [Andy] One of the reasons Highland games are so popular in the Southeast and all over the United States is that you have a lot of immigrants that were Scott, Irish, and they carried a lot of these traditions with them. The clanned gatherings were an event so people could get together, was a time of social interaction and stuff. So that they came from all over the glens and came together. So it's no different here. It's a time for us to be together and celebrate our heritage and, welcome people into new family connections. - [Susan] The president of this year's games, Andy Ward has some simple, but sage advice for visitors. - Bring suntan lotion, bring your walking shoes and come prepared just to enjoy all that's here. - [Susan] You can marvel at the agility of young lads and lasses as they deftly perform intricate dances that are centuries old. Or tap your feet to the string melodies of young musicians, forming a Celtic wall of sound. There's also a marketplace where you just may find the perfect scarf or kilt, and then quench your thirst and grab a bite to eat. One thing you'll find at the games here that you won't find in Scotland are the clan tents. It's a place for American McDougals, MacDuffs, Gordons and Stewards to connect and celebrate their shared family name and history. A parade of clans each proudly wearing their family tartan officially opens the games on the field. These contests of strength and stamina have been taking place for hundreds of years. Having evolved from competitions to find the best warriors in the land. Well today's contestants all have day jobs, but they are definitely warriors. Perhaps the most iconic event is the caber toss. It's a test of balance, control, technique, and sheer strength. The aim is to toss the caber end over end and have it land directly in front of the athlete in a 12 o'clock position. Now, while height and distance may look impressive, it's the position the caber falls in that dictates the winner. - [Cheering Fan] There you go. There you go. There you go. Yes! - [Susan] Amateur athlete, Allison Fuster made a strong showing on the field despite the fact that... - This is my first time today. And actually just yesterday, they held a clinic here at the park and that was legitimately my first time touching some of the equipment out here. - [Susan] Allison was inspired by last year's games to give it a go this year. - [Allison] I thought it was just like really cool and looked like a lot of fun. And I think everybody in the bleachers was kind of sitting there going, like, I wonder how I would do. There were seven events today. I did all of them. So there was weight over the bar. Literally just throw weight over the bar, a sheaf toss, stone throw. And I hope someone will forgive me if I'm not saying the actual correct names, caber toss, hammer throw, and then two weights for distance, a light weight for distance and a heavy weight for distance. I've had a really good time and I think it helps, you know, it's over. And so all the jitters are out and I can kind of just relax. The caber toss is really fun to watch. I think that's probably the most fun to watch cause there's just like strength and agility and balance. And I don't know, but right now I think I'm most excited to have a beer, sit down and hopefully like get connected with the community that will get together and do this sort of thing again next year. - [Susan] Whether like Allison, you try your luck on the field, or like most, cheer from the sidelines, have a wee bit of Scottish DNA or none at all. You'll still most certainly feel part of the clan and enjoy the gathering. And don't be surprised if suddenly your favorite color is plaid or the sound of Celtic music puts a lump in your throat. Getting connected and having a fun day out with family is what the Middle Tennessee Highland games is all about. - [Andy] We have so many people when they leave, they're smiling, they've had a good day. They've made a family connection and that's good. So that's what we're hoping for. - Now this year's games take place in Hendersonville and the dates, September 10th and 11th. When you hear of the term museum of natural history, you might think of Washington DC, New York, even London. But what about Murfreesboro? Yeah, that's right. Middle Tennessee has had its own museum of natural history since 2014. Well, Cindy Carter uncovered this hidden gem and brings us a story. - [Cindy] If it's true, we are known by the company we keep. - [Alan] Mastodons and mammoths, which we're running around in Tennessee. - [Cindy] Then Allen Brown is one ferocious and fascinating guy. - [Alan] So this is a Montessaurus femur that I dug up. - [Cindy] Alan spends his days hanging out with his prehistoric pals like T-Rex, Velociraptor and lots of others who are harder to pronounce. - [Alan] So this slightly reddish colored dinosaur is called a Struthiomimus. Possibly one of the fastest dinosaurs. If you look, he's got really long legs, he's really lightly built. - [Cindy] This savvy science guy, passionate paleontologist is also the executive director of Earth Experience. - I have always been absolutely in love with natural history museums. And it was a natural history museum that got me interested in science in the first place. - [Cindy] And in 2014, that love affair led Alan to open this natural history museum in Murfreesboro, middle Tennessee's very first. - [Alan] Tennessee has a huge natural history component to it. We have lots of minerals, especially from Tennessee, there's giant calcite crystals and purple fluorite crystals. Mineral collectors just love it. - Whoa! - [Alan] We have things from the ice age, saber tooth cats, like the one that was found in Nashville that the Predator's hockey team is based off of. - [Cindy] You can add Red Pandas, Mosasaurus, and giant sea turtles to that Tennessee list. But this experience also includes gemstones and fossils from all over. Inside the museum's paleo lab, patrons can watch Alan carefully chip debris away from one of the numerous bones he's dug up over the years in places like Montana. - [Alan] Picking and brushing away small bits at a time. It's a very slow process. It can take years of work to clean an individual bone. - [Cindy] Thanks to Alan's annual summer dinosaur digs, much of what you see on display is the real deal. But the museum also molds and casts replicas, really good ones right down to the smallest details. - This has been a passion of mine my whole life. - [Cindy] Volunteer Jim Kelsey shows us how he recreates a velociraptor skull from a mold of an original fossil. - [Jim] Every detail of the original will be formed when we put the cast in. - [Cindy] The presto change-o moment only takes a few minutes, and once it happens, the piece can either be sold to patrons wanting to take some of this experience home or become part of the museum's impressive dino display. - [Alan] This is the only copy of these dinosaur tracks in existence, anywhere in the world. - Not for nothing, it is called Earth Experience. It just doesn't feel like a museum in large part because of displays like this one where people can dig in and learn about topography and landscapes and watersheds. They can literally get in there and have a hands on experience. - [Child] Like a drum. - [Cindy] As impressive as this collection is, Alan says he has four times this in storage, the small museum displays only what it currently has space for. - [Jeweler] We heat up and we gotta get it all hot enough to where it's still melting. And silver just, just melt the silver. - [Cindy] From gemstone jewelry making to guided tours. - [Tour Guide] Igneous rocks are rocks from a volcano. - [Child] They look like crystals. - [Cindy] Dedicated volunteers and donations keep this experience alive. No outside funding. No corporate sponsors. Just unbridled enthusiasm for science. - [Alan] The world needs more scientists. There's always a shortage of scientists, especially some of the sciences like geology, where there are more jobs than there are geologists to fill them. And so natural history museums, more than anything else, get people interested in science. - [Cindy] Alan well understands what gets people excited. Books and movies help stimulate a curiosity for specific creatures like Pterodactyls, Wooly Mammoths and yes, Game of Thrones fans, Dire Wolves. - [Alan] Dire Wolves were running around with all of the other things that have been found in Tennessee. There's a pretty good chance Dire Wolves were in Tennessee. - [Cindy] But once inside this museum, Alan Brown and his merry band of volunteers, hope people discover so much more than they ever expected, a new experience from this Earth Experience. - Well that's it for this week's Tennessee Crossroads. Hope you had a good time. Why don't you check our website out when you get a chance. Tennesseecrossroads.org. you can follow us on Facebook, of course. And I'll see you next week. - [Narrator] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at tntrailsandbyways.com. - [Narrator 2] You can't predict the future, but you can count on Tennessee Tech always putting students first. Our faculty, staff and students have shown strength, compassion, patience, and kindness. during these trying times. For us, it's personal. That's what you can count on at Tennessee Tech.
September 01, 2022
Season 36 | Episode 06
Miranda Cohen makes a BBQ discovery in Dickson. Laura Faber explores the Arts and Crafts Loop in Gatlinburg. Susan Watson visits the Middle Tennessee Highland Games. And Cindy Carter tours the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History.