Civil War re-enactors and Mother Nature produced some loud "bangs" to kick off the Christmas in July Festival in downtown West Jefferson Friday evening. The re-enactors provided a firing salute at the opening ceremony at 7 p.m., and around 8 p.m. the skies darkened, thunder boomed and lightning flashed heralding a brief downpour. The rain quit for a short time, then returned, but many visitors stayed to hear the music while others stopped long enough to grab some tasty funnel cakes and blooming onions as they dashed for cover. Buck Haggard and Wolf Creek provided music along with a newly formed group, BrandyGrass with Brandy Miller, Steve Lewis and friends. The festival opens Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with more music and food along with arts & crafts, children's activities, the farmers market and lots of fun until 7 p.m. with free admission.