ABINGDON, Va. -

A town-wide celebration is happening in Virginia as Abingdon goes to Oz with Barter Theatre! “The Wizard of Oz” begins Saturday May 17 and local businesses are getting in on the fun with limited time Oz themed products, food and drink!

This summer-long transformation kicked off with the installation of giant OZ letters to accompany the LOVE letters installed by the town of Abingdon. Dozens of people get their photo made each week by the Virginia is for Lovers' "LOVE" letters. Now Virginia is for OZ lovers, too! If that photo opportunity is not enough, Barter invites you to get a photo made with a life-sized cutout of Barter's very own actors playing the Lion, Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man or make a wish by tossing a penny into the emerald green water of the "Midsummer's Night Dream" sculpture across from Barter's Main Stage.

"Abingdon, like Oz, is a very special place. It is wonderful to see our shops and restaurants getting in to the spirit of Barter's big summer musical and offering fun Oz themed promotions all along our red (not yellow) bricked sidewalks downtown. This promises to be a magical summer in Abingdon," said Kevin Costello Director of the Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The anticipation for the opening of Barter Theatre's 'The Wizard of Oz' has set the whole town abuzz. It’s like opening day for us all."

Barter Theatre's Yellow Brick Road Partners range from Jeannine’s Fabric Store (with Wizard of Oz themed prints) to Pop Ellis’ Soda Shoppe (featuring the Munchkin Lunchkin), and everything in between.

Bob's at Barter—the newly renovated eatery at Barter Stage II—will feature, among its many tasty offerings, ruby red cookies and treats from the lollipop guild created by Anthony’s Desserts.

Babycakes Cupcakery and Unique Eats will feature Ruby Red Slipper Cupcakes, a red velvet cake cupcake with glittery red icing. It’s sure to please.

Figaredo's is offering an Emerald City Pizza, a delicious green pizza with pesto sauce.

Bonefire Smokehouse is offering a special "We're not in Kansas Anymore" BBQ.

Abingdon Olive Oil Company is partnering with locally owned restaurants in town with their The Oz Couple, pairing Ruby Red Grapefruit infused Olive Oil with Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar.

For adults, the Peppermill is offering a Flying Monkey Cocktail with banana liqueur and the Tavern is offering a Good Witch and a Bad Witch, the latter made with absinthe.

On the retail side, Mallory Fine Art invites the public to view the “Over the Rainbow” fine arts exhibit featuring original works by regional artists, and The Glass Peacock is selling beautiful hand-made Ruby Red Slipper Sun Catchers and Charms.

"There hasn't been a better time to visit Barter and the Oz transformed Abingdon. It would be a shame not to come early or to just jump in your car right after the show. This is a great way to highlight Barter and everything our community has to offer," said Amanda Leslie Livingston, Barter's director of marketing.

For even more fun, come celebrate Barter's 81st birthday at the Barter Birthday Bash on Barter Square next to Barter Stage II on June 10, 5:00 p.m.to 7:30 p.m.; it's free and open to the public. Everyone will have a chance to meet Kona Kringla, the pup playing Toto, a part Jack Russell/part Chihuahua mix. Kona is a rescue from the Washington County Tennessee Humane Society, and when she is not performing at the Barter she is training to be a therapy dog.

June 10 is also Barter Day where patrons can barter canned goods for tickets to see “The Wizard of Oz.” All proceeds are donated to Feeding America, Southwest Virginia.

Remember that parking is always free in Barter Theatre’s parking lot, adjacent to Barter Stage II, and most of the Official Yellow Brick Road Partners are within walking distance. On the weekends, the Town of Abingdon’s trolleys will also be running, free of charge.

To view a full list of Official Barter Theatre Yellow Brick Road Partners or to see show times and ticket prices for Barter Theatre's production of "The Wizard of Oz" visit AbingdonGoestoOz.com or call (276) 628-3991 for more information.

(Released for publication)