By Erika Giovanetti
July 5, 2013. On July 5-6, downtown West Jefferson’s not-so-conventional Christmas in July Festival celebrates its 27th year with old-fashioned past-times as well as budding traditions.
Along with the usual Civil War reenactment, vendor booths, live music, crafts and food, this year’s festival will kick off with its first Giant Puppet Parade on Friday evening at 6:15 p.m. Taking place on BackStreet in downtown West Jefferson, he festival runs until 10 p.m. on Friday and reopens on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.
The parade, put on by the Elkland Art Center, begins at the Ashe County Public Library and makes its way to the main stage for the opening ceremonies at 6:45 p.m. The giant puppets are comparable to those of the Chinese New Year because of their large size and colorful décor. If you miss the parade, you can attend a puppet show from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday on the community stage.
Christmas in July began as a celebration of the local tree industry, showcasing the Fraser fir Christmas tree and its optimal growing conditions in Ashe County. The Ashe County Christmas Tree Association (ACCTA) honors the local Christmas tree farm industry by sponsoring a contest to see who’s the best Christmas tree crew. Participating crews contend in various competitions such as a fertilizer backpack relay, a tug-of-war and tree baling. The five-member teams compete for a grand prize of $1,000.
Another returning tradition in this year’s festival is the Civil War reenactment, featuring groups such as the 1st Virginia Cavalry. Their camp is at Bowie-Seagraves Park behind the Ashe County Library. The groups host educational demonstrations, speeches, battles and a period church service. Members of the cavalry and infantry, as well as their wives, sweethearts, children and other civilians, can be found roaming the festival in period dress.
The Ashe County Farmers’ Market runs on different hours as a part of the festival. On Saturday, the market will open at 9 a.m. and close at 7 p.m., concurrent with the festival’s hours. The farmer’s market is located on BackStreet and features over 30 vendors selling nursery items, plants, homegrown foods, barn quilts and other crafts.
The Ashe County Arts Council sponsors the Creation Station, which offers free arts and crafts activities including face painting, block printing, clay art and more. Children may also enjoy a bounce house, climbing wall, a giant slide and other inflated activities.
Christmas in July is also known for its food and vendors. Over 100 vendors participate in this eventful festival, with products ranging from woodwork and pottery to Christmas crafts. The food available for purchase includes festival fare and American, Greek and Mediterranean food.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, July 5, 2013: Street Party (food and music only)
5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Pre-Festival music – Clay Lunsford
6:45 – 7:00 p.m. Opening ceremonies including guest speakers, a giant puppet
parade by Elkland Art Center, Santa Claus and more!
7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Buck Haggard Band
8:30 – 10:00 p.m. Wolf Creek Band
Saturday, July 6, 2013: Festival (food, crafts and music)
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. King Street Brass Band
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Zephyr Lightning Bolts
11:00 – noon Brandygrass
Noon – 1:00 p.m. Backporch Bluegrass Band
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. The Snyder Family Band
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Jeff Little, Pianoman
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Wayne Henderson
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Freeman and Williams
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Carolina Crossing Band
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. The Cockman Family Band
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. JAM – Junior Appalachian Musicians
10:00 – Noon Dancing Debbie’s
Noon – 1:30 p.m. April’s School of Dance
1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Fleet Feet Cloggers
3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Footloose Express
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Puppet Show
4:30 – 5:00 p.m. Footloose Express
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Julie Smith – Flash Dance