By Travis Miller
July 1, 2014. This year marks the 28th anniversary of the West Jefferson Christmas in July Festival. This year’s festival, held July 4 and 5 in downtown West Jefferson, will feature a wide variety of events including a giant puppet parade, roving street performers, Civil War reenactments, more than 100 craft vendors, many live musical performances, Christmas tree farm competitions and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The festival will begin at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, July 4 with a Christmas tree-themed puppet parade courtesy of Elkland Art Center. The parade will march from the Ashe County Library to the main stage on Main Street and Jefferson Avenue.
From there, opening ceremonies will be held at 6:45 p.m. as organizers and town officials welcome all attendees and participants.
“Christmas in July offers the best of regional mountain music, fine arts and crafts and festival food in a family friendly environment,” said Jane Lonon, Committee Member for the Christmas in July Festival.
The festival began in 1987 as a way to promote Ashe County’s famous fraser fir Christmas trees, the number-one cash crop of Ashe County and the most highly sought after of all Christmas trees.
“It really gives visitors a close look at what the Christmas tree industry means to the area,” said Lonon. “There’s just a huge festive environment … There’s something for everyone.”
Street Activities, Vendors and Events
Throughout the two-day event, West Jefferson’s downtown will be flooded with things to do and see.
More than 20 food vendors will be present, offering varieties of confections, meats, ethnic dishes, cold treats and other edibles.
There will also be more than 100 craft vendors and artisans present, who will demonstrate their work and sell their goods. The stunning variety of artisans include jewelry makers, artists, toy makers, metalworkers, woodworkers, soap makers, potters, quilt makers, basket weavers, glassblowers, sign makers, photographers, alpaca farmers, florists and more.
A number of street performers will be roving the streets entertaining attendees with interactive theater, miming, juggling, magic and music.
The Ashe County Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, providing local vendors who will offer everything from nursery items and plants to homemade jams and fresh-baked breads.
Children’s activities will include the Creation Station, face-painting and several inflatables. The Creation Station is hosted by the Ashe County Arts Council and will allow children to create art using a variety of art supplies. Inflatables include a climbing wall, a giant slide and bouncy castles.
Musical performances will be held throughout the festival, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday on both the main stage and the community stage. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs so that they may sit and enjoy the country, bluegrass and old-time music. The performance schedule is as follows:
Friday, July 4
6 to 7 p.m. Hard Tymes Band
7 p.m. Opening Ceremonies
7:15 to 8:30 p.m. Becca Eggers Gryder and Amantha Mill
8:30 to 10 p.m. Buck Haggard Band
Saturday, July 5
9 to 10 a.m. Madison Shepherd and The Boys
10 to 11 a.m. Carolina Crossing Bluegrass Band
11 a.m. to Noon Clay Lundsford and the N.C. Thumbpickers
Noon to 1 p.m. Wayne Henderson and Friends
1 to 2 p.m. Jeff Little, the Piano Man
2 to 3 p.m. Spencer Branch Band
3 to 4 p.m. Backporch String Band
4 to 5 p.m. Freeman and Williams Band
5 to 6 p.m. The Dollar Brothers
6 to 7 p.m. The Cockman Family Band
Saturday, July 5
9 to 10 a.m. Junior Appalachian Musicians
10 a.m. to Noon Dancin’ Debbie’s
Noon to 1:30 p.m. April’s School of Dance
1:30 to 3 p.m. Fleet Feet Cloggers
3 to 3:15 p.m. Taylon Miller
3:15 to 4 p.m. Elkland Art Puppet Show
4 to 6 p.m. Tonya Halsey’s Voice Students
6 to 7 p.m. Drum Circle
Civil War Reenactments and Demonstrations
Civil War reenactors will be giving several demonstrations and reenactments throughout the festival. At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, companies will form up and march downtown before reencacting a short skirmish at 7 p.m. on Main Street and a Meet the Soldiers demonstration at 7:30 p.m. in West Jefferson Park.
On Saturday, the reenactors will present a salt making demonstration at 9 a.m., an artillery demonstration at 10 a.m., a talk by Monte Baker on “Ashe County in 1864” at 11 a.m., Ladies Tea with Mrs. Jefferson Davis and Mrs. Robert E. Lee at noon and a Meet the Generals event at 1 p.m. followed by the main events, The Battle of Boone Reenactment, which will take place at 3 p.m., and The Skirmish of Killian Creek Reenactment, which will take place at 6 p.m.
Christmas Activities and Events
It wouldn’t be a Christmas in July Festival without Christmas related activities.
The Ashe County Christmas Tree Association is hosting several competitions between participating tree farm teams on Saturday. There will be a fertilizer back pack relay at 9 a.m., a one-ton fertilizer relay at 10 a.m., a tug of war at 11 a.m. and tree bailing at noon as well as wreath-making demonstrations throughout the competitions.
Santa and Mrs. Claus are taking a break from their summer vacation to visit the festival. They will be present for the opening ceremony as well as most of the day on Saturday.
For more information on West Jefferson’s Christmas in July Festival, visit ChristmasInJuly.info or call at 336-846-9196 or 866-607-0093.