Don't be alarmed by the booms and bangs rumbling from Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island this weekend.
These cannon shots are actually part of Carolina Day 2009, an annual festival to commemorate the defeat of British forces in South Carolina by American colonists during the Battle of Sullivan's Island on June 28, 1776.
The Battle of Sullivan's Island also marked the first significant victory over the British during the Revolutionary War, six days before the United States declared complete independence on July 4.
After the victory at Fort Moultrie, the British would never invade South Carolina's waters again.
Hosted by the National Park Service, the festival shows more promise than ever this year. Fort Moultrie is part of the Fort Sumter National Monument, protected by the National Park Service since 1960. The Park Service has expanded the festival and hired a new group of Revolutionary War reenactment volunteers this year. A volunteer gun crew from St. Augustine, Fla., will fire cannons for the first time ever in the festival's history from Fort Moultrie.
Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, visitors can watch cannon-firing demonstrations at Fort Moultrie's Battery Jasper.
The gun crew, dressed as 18th century patriots, will explain to visitors how to load and fire the cannons as well. Demonstrations will occur on the hour until 4 p.m. Saturday and continue 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Visitors also can see medical exhibits from the 18th century on display both days near the Fort Moultrie Visitors Center. Eric Williams, former historian of Ninety Six National Historic Site near Columbia, will give presentations on a doctor's role during the battle, in costume of course.
After the last firing demonstration Sunday, the festival will feature a special program and speech from Williams about the Battle of Sullivan's Island at 4 p.m.
In honor of the festival, admission to Fort Moultrie this weekend is free.
On Monday and Tuesday, the 246 Army Band of the South Carolina National Guard will perform free patriotic concerts as part of the festival. Monday's concert will take place at Liberty Square near the Maritime Center and Tuesday's concert will occur at Fort Moultrie. Both performances start at 7 p.m.
Dawn Davis, acting chief ranger of the National Park Service at Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter and Charles Pinckney Historic Site, encourages all ages to come out and celebrate Carolina Day, an important part of their state's history. "Many South Carolinians consider the colonists' victory at Fort Moultrie as their state's personal declaration of independence from Britain," she said. "And with the Fourth of July holiday approaching, it's a great opportunity to reflect on the meanings of freedom and patriotism in America."