If you would like to add indoor entertainment to your explorations in southwestern Virginia, try the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, 38 miles west of Grayson Highlands State Park.
It was started during the Great Depression by out-of-work native-son actor Robert Porterfield. Tired of fruitless job searches in New York, he thought the folks back home might be willing to swap their hard-earned farm produce for an evening's entertainment and maybe a good laugh.
The theater opened in 1933. At the end of the first year, the books showed a profit of $4.35 in cash and two barrels of jelly, but the actors had gained an accumulated 300 pounds.
The Barter passed some of the bounty to the playwrights whose work it showed: Tennessee Williams, Noel Coward and Thornton Wilder got hams; vegetarian Bernard Shaw accepted fresh spinach.
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A ham will no longer get you a ticket, however. Prices range from $24 to $41 for the shows presented at the original theater on Abingdon's main street and at Barter Stage II nearby.
Over the years, some of the country's most famed actors - including Ernest Borgnine, Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal and Kevin Spacey - learned their craft at the Barter. To help the Barter with fundraising, says communications manager Christine Webb, "Ernest Borgnine's come back twice. Patricia Neal came back a couple of times."
The theater auditions actors in New York, Nashville, Tenn., and locally, and its August festival of plays and playwrights celebrates work by Appalachian natives or about Appalachia.