Sunday, June 17, 2012

Photo Essay: Launching the Batteaus in Lynchburg

With a cannon roaring, the James River Batteau Festival kicked off yesterday at 11 a.m.
Batteaus gather for launch. There were 21 of them.
Batteaus float the picturesque James River in downtown Lynchburg.
Batteau crewman finds time and place for a nap.
Canoes and kayaks escort the batteaus as they launch.
A Monacan Indian tells stories to gathered kids.
My buddy Jeff Taylor is the voice and the image of the festival.
Nameplate for a batteau.
Crewwoman cools off in the sun.
This woman finds a better way to cool.
A colorful escort passes the parked batteaus ...
... and moves on down the river.
Jeff watches the batteaus come to their launch point.
Dog swims out to greet the crew of the Buckingham.
Leah and meah take it all in. That's Leah Weiss. The fat one's me.
Roanoke has been known as the Festival City since Mayor Noel Taylor decreed it so about 30 years or so ago. He was probably premature with the pronouncement then, but the city has grown into the title. Its festivals are many and varied.

None, however, is like the wondrous Batteau Festival in a newly revitalized Lynchburg, just 50 miles east of us. A growing group of batteaus (21 this year) float from Lynchburg to Richmond over about eight days, replicating the commercial route of the mid-19th Century before the railroad moved into the mountains and goods were moved along the river. It is a grueling trip for these modern-day river men and women (and children and dogs in some cases).

The boats gathered at Percival's Island just off downtown Lynchburg in late morning and a cannon signalled the start of the trip before a large gathering of well-wishers and a colorful floatilla of modern boats--canoes and kayaks mostly. It was a lovely scene, full of noise and excitement. Here's some of what it looked like.

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