WEST JEFFERSON, N.C. — The annual Christmas in July Festival arrives July 2 with a kickoff on July 1. This year marks the festival’s 25th anniversary with special features to note that milestone.
A kickoff ceremony will be held at 6:15 p.m. on July 1 at the main stage with welcomes from the county board of commissioners and mayor of West Jefferson.
Music on the main stage will follow the kickoff ceremony Friday beginning at 7 p.m. with Blue Country Band followed by the Buck Haggard Band at 8:30 p.m. Food vendors will be open until 10 p.m. along the Backstreet. The main stage and festival headquarters booth are set up on Main Street between Jefferson Avenue and the Backstreet.
The festival opens on July 2, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with arts & crafts, music, food, children’s activities, Civil War camp and battle re-enactments, Christmas tree competitions, the Ashe County Farmers Market, and much more.
The festival is a showcase for the Ashe County and North Carolina Christmas Tree Associations exhibiting beautiful examples of the popular Fraser fir tree growing in abundance all across the High Country. This 25th anniversary festival will feature a return of grower exhibits, competitions and other related activities, and give visitors an opportunity to try their hand. See how the festival all began as a way to highlight this major industry in the mountains.
A popular part of the festival, the Washington Rifles of 1st Virginia Cavalry Co. D in Abingdon, Va. will provide a Civil War era re-enactment program during the festival. The re-enactors will set up in West Jefferson’s municipal park behind the library for three days (July 1-3) of events and activities including an exciting battle re-enactment, a Civil War camp, living history talks and period music.
Following their gun salute on Friday, July 1 during the festival’s opening ceremonies, the Washington Rifles will conduct a skirmish from the main stage area up toward the town park from around 7:30-8 p.m. The camp will be open to the public until 11 p.m.
On Saturday, July 2, the camp opens at 8 a.m. for public visitation. North Carolina units will be in uniform from 8 a.m. to noon, and group leader Monte Baker will provide a portrayal of Thomas Crumpler, a representative from Ashe County in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1860 at the start of the Civil War. In character, Baker will explain Crumpler’s part in Ashe County’s role in the war, and there will be other information provided about those early days of the war in Ashe County.
There will be a Civil War era fashion show in the camp at 9:30 a.m. and an artillery demonstration at 11:30 a.m. followed by a “Meet the Generals” activity at 1 p.m. with portrayals of Gen. Buke, Gen. Lee, Gen. Stuart, Gen. Grant and Gen. Jackson.
The battles begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday with a re-enactment of The Battle of Boone and a re-enactment of The Skirmish of Killian Creek (Sparta) at 6:30 p.m. The camp will be open to the public until 11 p.m.
The re-enactors will close their weekend with a period church service at 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 3 in the camp. The public is invited to attend.
Musicians set to perform at the festival this year include country, bluegrass, old-time, traditional, pop and classic, gospel and the cool Caribbean sound of the steel drum band from Ashe County High School.
Children can enjoy a ton of fun during the festival with hands-on activities including arts & crafts, games and recreation. Dance entertainment at the festival is offered by students of area dance studios.
Admission is free. Handicapped parking available. For more information, go to the festival website at www.christmasinjuly.info, contact the Ashe County Arts Council at 336-846-ARTS or the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce at 336-846-9196.