James River Batteau Festival
The James River Batteau Festival, in its 27th year, launched this past Saturday from Percival’s Island in downtown Lynchburg, VA. A fleet of nineteen boats pushed off from the banks of the river amidst cannon blasts, cheering and applause.
The festival is an 8-day, 120 mile trip down the James River from Lynchburg to Richmond. The launch from Lynchburg celebrates the unique history of these flat-bottomed boats, invented in Amherst, which once carried goods and passengers in the early 8th century. With a draw of only about 6-8-inches these boats carried several thousand pounds of tobacco or other goods on the shallow James River. The batteau carried goods until about 1840 when improvements along the river made navigation by larger vessels possible.
For the first time in 5 years this year’s festival included traditional crafters and artisans, historical games, activities and exhibits, storytelling, live music, a bass fishing tournament, a canoe and kayak race and a Monacan Youth Powwow Dance. Due to the resounding success of this year’s festival, be on the lookout for the announcement, next year, for the launch date in June 2013.
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