For 40 weeks of the year from 1978 to 1998, Roadside Theater toured the U.S. performing its plays and conducting community residencies. When the ensemble wasn't touring, company members wrote and produced new plays and performed and conducted residencies in its homeland of central Appalachia. Christmas in Appalachia grew out of the ensemble's shared yearning with local artists to reconnect to holidays past.
The performance became so popular that Christmas in Appalachia is now a local annual tradition that includes several scripts performed with different local storytellers, singers, and musicians in a variety of eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia communities. Each performance reflects the special cultural traditions of the host community.