Brandon Weston grew up hearing about the hoop snakes and home remedies that are part of the folklore of the Ozarks. It didn't seem unusual to him, he says, to "eat most of the animal, not just the good parts," to put tobacco on a bug bite or to make an herbal sunburn salve from plants he found in the woods.
It wasn't until he began to read the stories retold by folklorists like Vance Randolph, Mary Parler and Otto Ernest Rayburn that Weston began to realize his upbringing was something special.
‘Ozark Folk Healing’
WHEN — Noon Wednesday
WHERE — Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale
COST — Free
INFO — 750-8165
"I started getting interested in the crossovers -- where the stories from my family mixed with the stories I was reading," he says.
At first, his bachelor's and master's degrees in French might seem anomalous, but Weston explains.
"I got interested in French because there's a dialect of French spoken over in the eastern part of the Missouri Ozarks, almost where it flattens out toward the Mississippi River," he says. "They call it 'Pawpaw French,' after the fruit.
"So the Ozark culture mixed with this old French Canadian language and culture," he explains, "and there are cultural overlaps between Ozark folklore and Cajun and Creole folklore. So I was able to do a lot of cool, overlapping research."
Now, Weston works at the University of Arkansas, where he has access to the library system and modern folklorists like Bob Cochran and shares his interest in herbal remedies, wild harvesting and foraging in programs like Sandwiched In at noon Wednesday at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale.
He plans, he says, to talk about plant-based medicines and "folk magic," influences from the Appalachians, Europeans and Africans, a little bit about the folklorists like Randolph and Parler and a little bit about folk medicine today.
"I make and use a lot of herbal remedies," he says.
-- Becca Martin-Brown
NAN What's Up on 06/16/2017