My last full day visiting my friend Nicky in Kingsport, Tennessee, was a doozie. We slept in until 9 a.m. and then drove to Abingdon, Virginia, where we had a wonderful lunch at 128 Pecan before checking in at The Barter Theatre to watch a production of Steel Magnolias on the Main Stage.
The Barter is the state theatre of Virginia, and many well known actors have performed there, including Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Larry Linville of MASH fame, along with a host of others.
A young actor named Robert Porterfield founded the theatre during the Great Depression. He’d returned to his native Southwest Virginia from New York with the idea of accepting produce and other goods as payment to see live plays. Thus the name, “Barter” Theatre!
The theatre opened on June 20, 1933, with the proclamation, “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.” The price of admission was 35 cents or its equivalent in produce, meat, or live animals. The playwright, George Bernard Shaw requested spinach for the right to produce his plays.
Read more about the Barter here. It’s a great place with a rich history:
Steel Magnolias was absolutely wonderful. Of course I cried all of my makeup off during the final act, but left with a smile. What a great way to spend an afternoon.
We started back to Kingsport the way we’d come only to find there was a traffic jam on the interstate. Nicky directed me down a curvy backroad route, though, and we made it back to Kingsport in time to meet friends at Cheddar’s for dinner.
We were both worn out from our Dollywood adventure on Wednesday, coupled with our trip to Abingdon yesterday, so we didn’t linger long after our meal. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Nicky’s where we retired to our respective beds before 10 p.m.
I’ll start home today (Friday), but I’m planning to stop in Knoxville, Tennessee, for lunch with a cousin I haven’t seen in many years. I can’t wait!