One of the best things about summer is the endless number of things to do. One of the more unique summertime events that can be found in Lynchburg is the James River Batteau Festival beginning on June 15th and lasting through June 22nd. This year marks the festival’s 28th run. Lynchburg is hosting a launch festival on Percival’s Island from 10am to 2pm on the 15th with music, art and crafts, a fishing tournament, demonstrations, and activities for kids. The batteaux will launch at 11am to begin the eight day journey down the James River from Lynchburg to Richmond. All events associated with the launch are free!
The history of the James River Batteau begins after a disastrous flood in 1711 that destroyed the canoes used to navigate and transport goods down the James River. Anthony and Benjamin Rucker designed the batteau (french for boat), a long and narrow vessel which could handle the shallow waters and rapids of the river. The batteau grew in popularity and at its peak over 500 at a time could be seen on the James. This all changed in the late 1700’s when the Kanawha Canal was built and safer passage along the James River became possible.
The original design of the batteau was lost for sometime until 1983 when some original batteaux were discovered at the bottom of an old canal basin. Soon after, the James River Batteau Festival began and numerous replicas now navigate the river during the eight days of festivities. The builders of todays batteau replicas feel strongly about the authenticity of their designs. Construction and operation guidelines are available on James River Batteau Festival website.
For anyone interested in taking a ride on a batteau, the James River Float Company offers fully guided batteau trips. Overnight trips are available out of Lynchburg daily from spring until fall. The experience promises stress free floating, spectacular views, and relaxing by campfire on a private island. Prices start at $155 per person with an eight person minimum (prices increase for smaller parties). Two weeks notice are also needed to ensure all details of trip are taken care of.
So whether you are looking for a fun way to spend the day with the family or a little adventure, the James River batteaux are a site to see. Check out the festival if you can and enjoy all the free activities and as always, the Stoney Badger would love to see you after for some good eats and a nice cold one on our deck!