Robert Porterfield, founder of both the Virginia Highlands Festival and the famed Barter Theatre, held the first Festival in 1949 at the Martha Washington Inn. His purpose was to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of this area. The Festival, over the past seven decades, has grown in scope to represent all of Southwest Virginia. Now it not only preserves the arts, crafts, and skills that developed in this region, but it also imports talented artists and performers from around the world for creative exchange and the enjoyment of area residents and visitors.
More than 100 volunteers work year-round planning events, tours, performances, and exhibitions for the annual Festival. They staff information booths, take up tickets, shuttle out-of-town performers to their programs and represent the Festival to local media.
Chartered in 1778, Abingdon is a Virginia Historic Landmark. Visitors enjoy amenities usually reserved for much larger communities. You can stroll shaded, brick sidewalks and savor the ambiance of the oldest town west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or explore a 20-block Historic District filled with outstanding examples of Federal and Victorian architecture. For more ideas of places to visit and things to do in Abingdon while you’re here, visit our Planning Your Trip page.