Virginians imbibed their last legal drink on Halloween night in 1916—more than three years before national prohibition was enacted. Newspapers reported bacchanalian scenes in the Old Dominion’s cities as “wets” drank up and bought out the stock of saloons and bars.
Most of the state’s liquor, beer and wine producers quietly shut down. Farmers worried that a major part of their livelihood from corn and fruit had disappeared overnight, while supporters of prohibition exulted in the promise of a morally upright “Dry Virginia.”
For the next 18 years, the state became a laboratory for a grand social experiment that ultimately left many Virginians with a serious hangover—and eventually led to repeal.
Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled, a traveling exhibition from the Library of Virginia, tells the story of Virginia Prohibition and its legacy through an exhibition and associated programming.
The exhibition addresses the important and long-lasting effects of Prohibition on commonwealth and America, including
• The prohibition movement as part of a social reform movement
• The economic and social costs of Prohibition, including the closing of businesses and conflict within communities, and the rise of illegal alcohol production and sale as an underground culture and economy
• The role of government in overseeing public health
• Prohibition’s legacy—from NASCAR to the creation of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to the rise of the modern brewing and distilling industry
‘Teetotalers & Moonshiners’ will be on display in the Blacksburg Public Library beginning Dec. 27 and running through Feb. 6, 2018.
The exhibition is supported in part by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association. The Virginia Distillers Association also provided support for the traveling exhibition.
A companion program to the Teetotalers and Moonshine exhibit, ‘Blue Flame Cough Syrup, Time Warp Egg Nog, and other adventures at the edge of bootlegging’ will be presented at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21 at the Blacksburg Library. Discussion of the poetry, stories, and images of bootlegging in Franklin County and nearby areas will be led by local author and poet Clyde Kessler.
Mr. Kessler will lead the discussion and share from his book of poetry ‘Fiddling at Midnight’s Farmhouse’ published by Cedar Creek Publishing, and illustrated by his artist-wife, Kendal Kessler.