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72nd Annual Virginia Highlands Festival is back

Summer festival emerges from COVID restrictions
with old favorites, new locations

virginia highlands festival
Festival-goers stop at a jewelry booth; image courtesy of VHF

ABINGDON, VA – The 72nd Annual Virginia Highlands Festival (VHF) is back with all the events audiences love and that many missed attending during last summer’s shut-down. The 2021 dates are July 23-August 1.

Organizers are offering a new Festival experience by bringing together most programming under one roof: The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SWVA Higher Ed Center).

“The SWVA Higher Ed Center offers a spacious, 6,000 square foot, Grand Hall for our esteemed Juried Antiques and Vintage Show. It’s in a very clean, climate-controlled environment that I’m confident will offer the best experience for our audiences and our vendors. There is ample parking and easy access for everyone,” said Becky Brett, executive director of The Virginia Highlands Festival.

The live music concerts will also move to the grounds at the SWVA Higher Ed Center, as well as Writers’ Day, Juried Fine Art and Photography exhibits, food trucks, and more. Concerts will take place outdoors under a giant tent.

The Juried Arts & Crafts show has always been a downtown magnet attraction and will continue in its traditional spot on the Barter Green on Main Street. The two locations will connect by shuttle service.

All tickets will be available through the VHF website,

Virginia Highlands Festival Event Lineup

Antiques & Vintage Show:
Now held in the Grand Hall at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, the Antiques and Vintage Show features 6,000 square feet of distinctive shopping opportunities. For many attendees, this is the focal point of the Festival. Antique lovers spend hours browsing through booths filled with formal and primitive furniture, high–end collectibles, jewelry, porcelain, china, rugs, vintage clothing, linens, paintings, pottery, and more! Dealers are constantly restocking, so be sure to visit more than once.

Early Bird Shopping is Friday, July 23, 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. Gain exclusive access to the ever-popular Juried Antique & Vintage Show of the Virginia Highlands Festival (VHF). Shop all the fine vendors before the general public has access. Refreshments will be available. Tickets for Early Bird shopping are $20, with proceeds going to fund VHF.

Regular Admission July 23-August 1, 10 a.m - 6 p.m. (closing at 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 1); Admission is $5 per day, or purchase a season pass for $15 and visit as often as you like!

Live Music:
After a year of no concerts, VHF is thrilled to present live music again. The Virginia Highlands Festival has organized a huge line-up of fan favorites! Concerts will be held outdoors under a spacious tent at the Southwest Virginia Higher Ed Center. All tickets are general admission and are $10.

This year’s lineup includes:
Friday, July 23; 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. — Folk Soul Revival Farewell Concert with From the Edge

Saturday, July 24; 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. — Band of Oz with The Great Big Hug

Thursday, July 29; 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. — Cash Revisited: A Tribute to Johnny Cash with Willy Nelson, and June Carter Cash followed by COAL Camp

Friday, July 30; 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. — Virginia Ground with The Honey Badgers

Saturday, July 31; 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. — Fritz and Company followed by Tuatha Dea

Juried Arts & Crafts Show at Barter Green: Visit the Arts & Crafts show named “Best in Virginia!” Browse beautifully handcrafted jewelry, accessories, and clothing, unique home and garden decorations, specialty food and soaps. Enjoy live art demos, and find one-of-a-kind items. The show is open rain or shine, daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is free.

Juried Fine Art and Photography Competitions: VHF is thrilled to support local artists and photographers with its annual competitions and galleries. Intake days for both competitions will be Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18 from noon-5p.m. at the Higher Ed Center. Entry forms, rules, and other information will be available on the Festival website by June 1st.

Culinary Arts and Traditions: VHF Welcomes celebrity chef Vivian Howard to this year’s Festival in conversation with local favorite, chef Travis Milton. Howard is a best selling author and semifinalist (4 times) for a James Beard Foundation (JBF) Best Chef Southeast. This past year she took home a JBF award for Best Television Personality.

Howard and Milton will chat on stage under the big tent at the Higher Ed Center on Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be $60 per person. Ticket price includes a signed copy of Howard’s cookbook and a special jar of “Community Organizer” sauce.

Local History: Local history activities have always been an important part of the Festival, since Abingdon was the most important town in the region for over 100 years. There will be downtown walking tours, ghost tours, a Sinking Spring Cemetery Living History event, and several lectures on topics related to regional history. The always popular historic homes and buildings tour will allow visitors to see the interiors of many Abingdon properties.

Outdoor Adventures: Come explore the outdoors with guided nature hikes, bike rides, and vineyard tours! The focus this year is on the new Clinch River State Park. A talk, film, kayaking, and hike will reveal the beauty of the Clinch River area. Some activities require advance registration, so check the specific events on the Festival website.

Writers’ Day: This year’s Writers’ Day workshops focus on the theme “Telling Our Stories” by using memories to write poetry, drama and fiction.

Writers’ Day welcomes writers of all genres and skill levels as they unite to create, collaborate, and appreciate literature. Participating writers include Sharyn McCrumb, Jim Minick, Bekah Harris, Rita Quillen, and Eugene Wolf. The publishing panel is composed of Tammy Robinson Smith, Greg Lilly, and Victoria Fletcher. Cost for Writer’s Day is $30.

In the week before Writers’ Day, the Virginia Highlands Festival is offering Sampling Sessions: “Finishing the Manuscript: Overcoming Writer’s Block” (Presenter Greg Lilly), “Capturing Memories for your Memoir” (Presenter Linda Hoagland), and “Writing to Market: How to Find Your Best Selling Niche” (Presenter Bekah Harris). Each sampling workshop is free with admission to the Antique and Vintage Show ($5). For more information visit

For a complete listing of Festival activities happening from July 23 - August 1, including registration requirements, advance ticket purchases, parking and shuttle info, and more, visit

About the Virginia Highlands Festival: Founded in 1948, the Virginia Highlands Festival is an annual, ten-day event devoted to the celebration of Southwest Virginia heritage and rich Appalachian tradition. Held in historic Abingdon, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Festival attracts thousands of visitors each year. The 72nd Virginia Highlands Festival will run from July 23-August 1 and feature live concerts, a juried arts and crafts show, and an antique market, as well as workshops, lectures and tours. To learn more about the Virginia Highlands Festival and this year’s events, please visit

Published May 31, 2021

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