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Civil War Live! at Huntley Project Museum

Caleb Grove demonstrates firing a musket during Civil War Live! at Huntley Project Museum on Thursday.

Cannon blasts and rifle smoke are in the air this week as the Huntley Project Irrigation Museum hosts an interactive, multi-day Civil War event.

Called Civil War Live!, the three-day program is organized by the Northern Rockies Civil War Association, a group of regional Civil War re-enactors.

The program is immensely popular, said museum Director Gay Kepple. More than 100 students turned out Thursday morning and hundreds more are expected Friday. The event is free and open to the public, along with registered schools.

"We actually had to turn down schools this year," Kepple said.

Civil War Live! at Huntley Project Museum

Max Awmiller holds a Civil War-era American flag during Civil War Live! at Huntley Project Museum on Thursday.

Visitors get to see re-enactors in period dress, firing period weapons, and discussing a variety of topics including Civil War medicine. A cavalry re-enactor is also attending this year. Students get to touch the weapons and even taste hard tack.

A Friday night class during which participants will learn how to fire a cannon is already filled, but Kepple said at about 7:30 p.m. the public is welcome to attend a demonstration of a cannon firing.

Amid all the noise, Kepple said there are moments of silence that prove the success of the event.

Civil War Live! at Huntley Project Museum

Ray Heiser shows Laurel Middle School students a collection of 1860s muskets during Civil War Live! at Huntley Project Museum on Thursday.

"When it's quiet, you know they're listening and they're really getting something out of it," Kepple said of the students.

Friday's hours will go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cannon demonstration will go from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Civil War Live! will start back up again Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Saturday events include a presentation from a local high school student on a Civil War soldier buried at the Huntley Cemetery, Kepple said.

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Night Reporter

General assignment reporter for The Billings Gazette.