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Sunday, June 17, 2012

JRA at the James River Batteau Festival

       In preparation for our upcoming expeditions, the JRA crew was hard at work this weekend checking one of our sturdy canoes for holes when we visited Lynchburg for the 27th annual James River Batteau Festival. We couldn't get around to all the boats, so we'll just have to take our chances on the rest. Jessica, Pat, and your trusty blogger started the day early enough, and were on the river a little ways upstream from Percival's Island in Lynchburg by about mid-day. This trip happened to be the first day's float for the second expedition of the summer, so we spent the day scouting out detours to spice up this relatively mild stretch of river. Despite spending some time studying a James River Batteau Festival atlas, printed by the Virginia Canal and Navigations Society, we missed a canal we meant to explore. But hey! Then we found another! It just goes to show it's still easy enough to lose your way, even when the only direction to travel is downstream. We landed our boat and spent a few minutes trekking through some notorious James River mud up a tiny stream to be treated with the sight of a skillfully constructed canal archway. We couldn't help but take some time to appreciate the handiwork of some long-gone mason's craft, whose skill does not exist today. Pat stayed hardest at work, preparing himself for the fishing tournament that was held during the Batteau Festival early Saturday morning. We said, "Pat, don't worry, I'm sure you'll do fine." And he replied, "No, no, I should keep fishing, need to know what they're biting around here."

       After camping out at our put-in spot, Lee's Landing, we were kept plenty busy Saturday morning preparing for the festivities of the batteaux launch at Percival's Island. Along with the Virginia Canal and Navigations Society and several other organizations, the JRA manned a booth a little ways off the Island with the help of some beloved James River Association volunteers, endearingly named River Rats. On Percival Island itself, the JRA crew thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to bring so many pipsqueaks of all ages to the river for some messy critter (macroinvertebrate) collection using seine nets. We even managed a fish printing station where tiny hands were kept busy decorating t-shirts with bass, brook trout, and bluegill rubber stamps from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M, only stopping at 11 to watch the rowdy batteaumen depart for the first leg of their journey. The day was a huge success overall, considering that we brought tons of kids to the banks of the James, and that Pat won the fishing tournament.

Learn more about the James River Batteau Festival, see some beautiful photos from this year's launch, and check out their 8-day schedule to follow them yourself (all paddlers welcome!) :

The James River Batteau Festival works in close partnership with the Virginia Canal and Navigations Society to promote the history of Virginia's canal works through the historical reenactment of a trade route from Lynchburg to Richmond. During the JRA's upcoming expeditions, we will be tracking our own journeys with the help of a few amazing James River atlases, printed by the VC&NS. Learn more about the organization here:

Bald Eagle Sighting During our Float!

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