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Reelfoot Forward

Author: Reelfoot Forward

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Podcast by Reelfoot Forward
164 Episodes
Ted Franklin Belue, a 2021 winner of the Western Writers of America’s prestigious Spur Award, has written numerous books including “Finding Daniel Boone,” “The Hunters of Kentucky” and “The Long Hunt.” He edited two Boone biographies, including Lyman Draper’s landmark “Life of Daniel Boone”—the classic reference on Boone and trans-Appalachian Long Hunters—and published more than 100 essays in trade and scholarly publications. He has served as consultant/commentator for the INSP Network’s “Wild Americans” and Outdoor Channel’s “SHOOTING USA,” History Channel (doubling on-screen in various 18th century guises), A&E, BBC, NBC, and NPR. He “survived” the French and Indian War as a Hollywood extra in “The Last of the Mohicans.” In this episode, Belue shares more about the inspiration for his passion for American history, long hunters and early settlers like Daniel Boone. This episode is brought to you by Leaders Credit Union.
Martin, Tennessee native Brady Weldon is a man of many hats. Minister, consultant, author and life-coach to name a few. Brady has helped start a few churches and sits on the board of several. He’s learned a lot during his 35 years of ministry, but one of his greatest discoveries was realizing he could impact people in the areas of both faith and creativity. In this episode, we take a journey back to Brady’s long West Tennessee line of entrepreneurship and helping others, as well as his journey back to another passion of his, music. Another hat on the bald head of Brady Weldon is the hat of a musician. Though this hobby was put to the side for many years, Roy Barberi of the Roy Band finally got the mic for singing back in Brady’s hand. Roy Band is Nashville’s live tribute to the best in 1980s hard rock, pop-rock and glam rock music. Brady Weldon often lives up to the nickname he earned in Nashville, Rock ‘n’ Roll Reverend, and joins them on stage. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union.
John Watkins has been planting seeds and watching them grow at Discovery Park since the 50-acre heritage park was first built in an empty field more than a decade ago. In this episode, he shares stories of his earliest meetings with Robert Kirkland where Discovery Park’s founder laid out his vision for the landscaping. Watkins also provides details about the future plans for the new Farm Credit Mid-America Education Pavilion, the vineyards and the upcoming All American Selections Display Garden. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union.
Chef Dylan Costantino has prepared meals in kitchens from Colorado to Mackinac Island to Nashville. Here in Northwest Tennessee, we’re lucky he’s now calling Paris home. Costantino is the executive chef at the Lodge at Paris Landing State Park in Henry County. The new 91-room lodge provides hotel resort-style vacation rentals on Kentucky Lake near Land Between the Lakes. In this episode, Chef Costantino shares some of the exciting things happening in their kitchen including Murder Mystery Dinner. Also discussed is some of the history of Henry County hospitality and the current location of their first tourist attraction, Sulphur Well. Let’s just say that business is now under water. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union. Leaders Credit Union is insured by NCUA.
A collection of 19 sculptures created by Lego artist Sean Kenney will be on display throughout Discovery Park’s 50 acres from May 3 to Sept. 2, 2024. This version of the award-winning traveling exhibition, “Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects®  Made with LEGO®   Bricks,” sponsored by Leaders Credit Union, was specially curated to enhance a visit to Discovery Park. Included in the collection is a monarch butterfly built with 60,500 LEGO® bricks that took 377 hours to build, a life-sized gardener built with 37,400 LEGO® bricks that took 320 hours to build and various plants, animals and insects. In this episode, Sean Kenney takes us behind the scenes from his Amsterdam studio and provides more details and a few of the stories of the artwork he creates. For more about Sean’s work, visit This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union.
On Saturday evening, March 2, 2024, Discovery Park of America honored four individuals who, like the museum and heritage park, inspire others to see beyond. Proceeds from the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards benefit the Kirkland Scholarship Fund that provides free admission for student groups to Discovery Park. The event was attended by a sold-out crowd from around the country who joined Discovery Park in celebrating the honorees Dr. Nick Dunagan, former UT Martin Chancellor; Deanie Parker, non-profit executive and champion of the arts; David Ring, businessman and developer and Elizabeth Taylor, community activist and philanthropist. In this episode, you get to listen in as we pay tribute to our winners and shine the spotlight on Discovery Park’s mission to inspire children and adults to see beyond. Links to more: Photos from the 2024 Discovery Awards Video from the 2024 Discovery Awards Support Discovery Park’s mission
Norma Pruitt is the “Pilot” of the board of directors of the organization that oversees the operations of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. The multistate organization works collectively to preserve, promote and enhance the scenic, historic and recreational resources of the Mississippi River. In the episode, Pruitt shares some fascinating insight into The Great River Road that stretches for 3,000 miles through and beside 10 states. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway is the longest and one of the oldest such designated roadways. It has also been named one of America’s All-American Roads. Discovery Park was added an interpretive center for The Great River Road in 2023. Pruitt is also the executive director for the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation. The Spastic Paraplegia Foundation is dedicated to advancing research and finding cures for two groups of closely related, progressive neurological disorders: Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS) and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union. Leaders Credit Union is insured by NCUA.
Dr. Elaine Harriss, a professor in the University of Tennessee at Martin Department of Music and recent inductee into the Steinway & Sons Teachers Hall of Fame, has been teaching piano for more than 50 years. She began teaching music as an undergraduate student in Nashville and continued in Monroe, Louisiana where she taught in an all-Black school during the early days of integration. In this episode, she shares inspiring stories from her award-winning career along with tips for parents who want to discover ways they can incorporate music into the lives of their children. This episode is sponsored by the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge.
Filmmaker Derek Purvis is the producer-director of the just released action pic “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.” In this episode, Purvis shares a little about the early inspiration that led him to a career in filmmaking along with a few stories that take listeners behind the scenes of his production. Filmed in Tennessee, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” is an action-packed Western featuring William Moseley who is known for his portrayal of the fictional character Peter Pevensie in the “The Chronicles of Narnia” trilogy. Set in 1815, the film focuses on Crockett’s fictional adventures while fighting his way through the wild frontier to save his children from the clutches of an evil land baron (Colm Meaney of Hell on Wheels). “We wanted to explore the larger-than-life mythology that enshrouds the Crockett name and use his ardent opposition to Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act as a throughline for what turned out to be a beautiful action-adventure tale,” said Purvis. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union. Leaders Credit Union is insured by NCUA.
Documentary filmmaker Randall Kendrick grew up in Brownsville, Tennessee in the shadow of The Mindfield, a “you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it” outdoor art installation created by Tennessee outsider artist Billy Tripp. The artist has been constructing a massive steel sculpture for the past 33 years, and is finally setting his sights on retirement. In his documentary, “The Steel Garden: A Documentary” Kendrick examines Tripp’s life and work as he builds one of the final pieces of his ever expanding sculpture. In this episode, Kendrick shares more about the inspiration for his documentary, the process he went through to get the story on film and the early response from the documentary film festival circuit, Brownsville residents and Billy Tripp himself. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union. Leaders Credit Union is insured by NCUA.
Sean Gasaway is an entertainer who wears many hats. His titles include songwriter, producer, music mogul, record producer, actor and entrepreneur. On this episode, the two-time Native American Music Awards Song of the Year winner shares more about using music to change young lives as education coordinator with the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance and some of the exciting things happening with arts and entertainment down in the historic Mississippi Delta. You can find out more about Sean at This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union.
Ann Martin is a leader of one of the most unique attractions in the nation, Patti’s 1880’s Settlement in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. A cancer survivor, businesswomen, entrepreneur, and recent TikTok star, she led the organization through a devastating fire, the many negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and now, unprecedented growth. In this episode, she shares the inspirational story of how their attraction’s restaurant— now serving over one million dollars in pork chops every year—began when one courageous woman, the late Patti Tullar, transformed her love for cooking and family into an award-winning business in a tiny town of 350 located between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Today, with its beautifully landscaped gardens, wedding chapel, water wheels, gift shops and boutique stores, Patti’s 1880’s Settlement, just an hour from Discovery Park, draws more than 300,000 visitors each year. You can discover more about Patti’s 1880’s Settlement on their website and follow Ann Martin on TikTok. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union.
Jeremy Powell, a pastor and teacher in Union City, Tennessee, was born with an autoimmune deficiency that rendered his body incapable of defeating bacterial and fungal infections. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, Powell contracted fungal meningitis. Given only an 18% chance of surviving the infection, his doctors at the National Institutes of Health recommended a bone marrow transplant as a last-ditch effort to clear the meningitis and save his life. Powell survived the transplant, and his rehabbed immune system even fought back the infection in his spine and brain. He was healed of his autoimmune deficiency and the fungal meningitis it caused. However, it left him completely paralyzed from the neck down, an he found himself dangerously close to having his breathing permanently compromised. After a stint at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Spain Rehabilitation Hospital, another operation and an inpatient rehab stay at Vanderbilt’s Stallworth Hospital, Powell slowly began feeling again. As he has grown stronger, his mobility has dramatically improved, and Powell continues to amaze medical doctors, nurses and physical therapists nationwide with his miraculous recovery. In this episode, Powell shares his inspirational story and that in the midst of some of the darkest days he has ever experienced, it became clear that God could use his suffering to cultivate hope in his life and in the lives of others. Today, he has returned to the pulpit of Crosswind Church where his message of hope touches hundreds each week. You can discover more about Powell at and find episodes of his messages on Crosswind Church’s Youtube channel. This episode is sponsored by Leader Credit Union. Leaders is insured by NCUA.
In this second two-part episode about road and mountain biking in Tennessee, we welcome Rodney McConnell, founder of the popular Ride the Fault Line bike ride. Participants on this ride explore attractions and experiences along the New Madrid Fault Line in Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee in just seven days. This episode is sponsored by Obion County Tourism.
We kick off a new year of podcast episodes from Discovery Park with a special two-part look at road and mountain biking in Tennessee. Jenny Veal, rural destination development manager with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, shares more about Bike Tennessee. The initiative will feature four to six curated routes in each of the nine regions of the state. Each route will be named, rated for difficulty, and will include mileage, climb, scenic information and points of interests. All Bike Tennessee cycling routes will be mapped and downloadable in the Ride with GPS app. This episode is sponsored by Reelfoot Lake.
As chairperson of the Arts Council of Crockett County, Tennessee Sarah Conley champions fine arts in the rural community named in honor of David Crockett. In this episode, she shares details from her journey so far including a childhood in Bells, Tennessee and early theatrical training with nationally acclaimed teacher of high school speech and drama, Freda Kenner. Today, Conley enthusiastically works to make certain people of all ages have access to arts of all kinds. This episode is sponsored by Parker’s Outfitting.
Tosha and Chris Gurley’s love story began with their “first child” Jack, a pet black-capped capuchin monkey. After Chris sold his cattle and goats, he decided to buy five buffalo. Next came the zebra, kangaroos and giraffes. It quickly grew from there into what is now Southland Safari in Clarksburg, Tennessee. Along for the ride with Tosha and Chris from the beginning, was their friend and legendary tour guide, Michael Avery. In this episode, Tosha and Michael share more about their story and the big commitment they made to leave their full-time jobs to run a zoo and luxury destination. Get a sneak peek of Michael at work with the animals from their Instagram or TikTok accounts, @southlandsafaritn. Better yet, plan your visit on their website for an up close and personal tour or luxury lodging experience.
Originally from Memphis, Dr. Yancy Freeman is the new chancellor at the University of Tennessee at Martin. In this episode, we discuss his path back to West Tennessee and the guidance he provides for today’s students. After completing his undergraduate, masters and doctorate from UT Chattanooga, Dr. Freeman served at the university for the past 25 years in various admissions, recruitment and enrollment roles. “West Tennessee has always been near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Freeman expresses as he reflects on being back in the part of the state that feels like home. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union. Leaders is insured by the NCUA.
“You do not have to be defined by your circumstances, but you’re defined by the choices that you make every single day.” These are words that Miss Volunteer America 2024, Hannah Perrigin, lives by. In this episode, we go back to her beginning where Ms. Perrigin decided she was not going to be another statistic of at-risk youth. You may be surprised to learn that time competing in pageants didn’t start until she was in college. In 2019, she was crowned Ole Miss Most Beautiful. This is when she was encouraged to continue. We also discuss the good and bad of social media and why she chooses to share both as a way to inspire her followers. Learn more about how pageants have changed over the years and the platform it’s given her.
Obion County resident Kimberly Green Bugg is an award-winning artist and member of the Oneida Nation on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. She began dancing and competing in Powwows in 1994 as a Southern Traditional Buckskin dancer, a traditional dance among the southern nations, and in 1997, she was selected as the Memphis Powwow Princess. In this episode, Bugg shares more about exploring her Native American culture, the importance of powwow celebrations and her work keeping Native American traditions alive today. Kim and her husband, David, lead the planning team responsible for the inaugural Northwest Tennessee Native American Educational Powwow at Discovery Park of America on October 27-29, 2023, so she also provides behind-the-scenes details about the unique event. This episode is sponsored by Parker’s Outfitting.