RCPL Program will Spotlight Virginia’s Moonshine Heritage


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. Many 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.

The Library of Virginia tells the story of Virginia Prohibition and its legacy through Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled,a traveling exhibition that will be on display at the Lebanon Library February 1 through March 14, 2021.

The exhibit addresses the important and long-lasting e<ects 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 con=ict 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

Russell County Public Library will also provide two programs, virtually. (so you’re safe), and recorded (so you can watch at your convenience):

Gregg Kimball, Director of Public Services and Outreach at the Library of Virginia, will share live and recorded music from the era. Mr. Kimball’s ‘Goodbye Booze: Music of the Prohibition’ will be February 17 at 7 pm.

Kathy Shearer, author of Tales from the Moonshine Trade, will share some stories she collected of moonshiners in Southwest Virginia, as well as show pictures of regional stills and folks that were involved in the ‘business.’ Ms. Shearer’s ‘Tales from the Trade’ talk will be February 23, 2021, 7 pm.

Call 276-889-8044 to register for the virtual programs, which will be recorded and posted online.

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