The Virginia Highlands Festival: Celebrating 75 Years of Appalachia

June 27, 2024 - January 05, 2025

Exhibit Details

75 years ago, Robert Porterfield began a cultural experience unparalleled to our region. The Virginia Highlands Festival has continued to grow in size and scope to become a destination for tourists and a beloved regional cultural resource for the arts, history and culture of Southwest Virginia.


“The Virginia Highlands Festival of the Arts and Crafts” (as it was first called) began as a dream of Robert Porterfield, who founded Barter Theatre in 1933. He joined with various organizations in Abingdon “to establish in the Highlands a center for the arts.” From its beginnings the programming was always dual: to bring arts activities and lecturers to Abingdon as well as celebrating Appalachian folk traditions.

“The Virginia Highlands Festival: Celebrating 75 Years of Appalachia” is a William King Museum of Art original exhibition and is part of the McGlothlin Exhibition Series.