By Linda Burchette
Less than two weeks and counting until Ashe County’s biggest event of the year arrives in downtown West Jefferson.
The 26th annual Christmas in July Festival will take place 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 7. Come a bit early, on Friday, July 6, for an evening of music and food from 6-10 p.m.
The festival features the very best in traditional mountain music and handmade crafts from the region. You will find an excellent array of food, fun and festivities for the entire family from children’s activities, to traditional and contemporary music and dance, to historic Civil War battle re-enactments and camp and farmers market with homegrown and handmade items.
Musicians set to perform this year include country, bluegrass, old-time, traditional, pop and classic, and gospel. On the main stage will be:
9 a.m. Southern Accent - bluegrass gospel
10 a.m. Heritage - homegrown acoustic gospel
11 a.m. Crooked Road Ramblers – old time traditional
12 noon Becca Eggers and Amantha Mill Band - modern bluegrass
1 p.m. Wayne Henderson and Friends - Appalachian guitar stylist
2 p.m. Jeff Little - Appalachian music on the piano
3 p.m. Freeman and Williams - bluegrass
4 p.m. Leona Williams - classic country Nashville singer/writer
5 p.m. The Toneblazers - great mix of music styles and songs
6 p.m. Carolina Crossing Band - solid bluegrass
The festival’s community stage, located beyond food vendor row, offers a variety of local talent including musicians and dancers. Community Stage schedule includes:
9–10 a.m. JAM Junior Appalachian Musicians
10 a.m.–1 p.m. Dancin’ Debbie’s
1–1:30 p.m. Sons of Pitch – Acappella Quartet
1:30–3 p.m. April’s School of Dance
3–4:30 p.m. Fleet Feet Cloggers
4:30–7 p.m. Tonya Halsey’s Voice Students
Roving street performers include Chaz the Magician, Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Dale Brook, the Magical Minstrel of Music and Mayhem, Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; InterACTive Theatre with Jef, Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; plus Off the Wall inflatable units, Creation Station with hands-on arts and crafts, and Santa Sam offering photos at Creation Station on Saturday 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
The weekend opens with a Street Party featuring music, food vendors and Civil War re-enactors on Friday, July 6, from 6-10 p.m. An opening ceremony will take place on the main stage at 6:45 p.m. followed by music from The Buck Haggard Band 7-8:30 p.m., and the Wolf Creek Band from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
Civil War re-enactors will set up a camp all weekend in the town park and conduct demonstrations, talks and battles concluding with a period church service on Sunday morning. Scheduled to participate are members of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, 13th and 43rd Tennessee Companies, 28th, 30th and 58th North Carolina units, the 10th Kentucky Homeguard and perhaps others, for around 100 re-enactors.
A skirmish between the North and South will take place on the streets Friday evening. Camp opens Saturday morning at 8 a.m. where visitors can meet and talk to re-enactors and view demonstrations, and there will be a field hospital with talks on the 1862 typhoid and pneumonia outbreaks around 9 a.m. At 10 a.m., “Meet the Generals” with portrayals of Lee, Stuart and Grant. Monte Baker with the 1st Virginia Cavalry will portray Zebulon B. Vance at 11 a.m. and talk about his service during the war and as governor of North Carolina. See a portrayal of Henry King Burgwin Jr. “The Boy Colonel” at noon and enjoy a ladies period fashion show at 1 p.m. Battles scheduled are the Battle of Boone at 3 p.m. and the Skirmish of Killian Creek at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, join a church service at 10:30 a.m.
The festival is also 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. There will be competitions among the Christmas tree farm workers in the Backstreet Park including fertilizer backpack relay, tug of war and tree baling along with wreath making demonstrations. Sponsors of these events are West Jefferson Chevrolet, Ashe County Christmas Tree Association and NC Cooperative Extension.
The annual 4th of July Livestock Show for Ashe County Extension will take place on Saturday, July 7, at the Ag Expo site off NC163 in West Jefferson. Weigh-in starts at 9 a.m. and the show starts at 10 a.m.
Sponsors for the festival are: Ashe Arts Council, Ashe County Chamber of Commerce, Town of West Jefferson (West Jefferson North Carolina – A Friendly Mountain Town), SSSink., Ashe Civic Center, Dr Pepper, Mountain Aire, Ashe County Cheese, Libby’s, Fleet Feet Cloggers, SkyLine/SkyBest, and Ashe Mountain Times.
For more information, go online to www.christmasinjuly.info, call the Ashe County Chamber at 336-846-9196 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.