Batteau Festival Is Next Week; 30th Year Of Event

Published 12:54 pm Thursday, June 18, 2015

BUCKINGHAM — The scenery of the James River will be set back by more than 200 years next week as a historical replay consisting of wooden, poled, antiquated vessels makes its way east, marking the 30th year of the James River Batteau Festival.

The weeklong event kicks off on Saturday, June 20, in Lynchburg, and concludes Saturday, June 27, at Maiden’s Landing in Powhatan.

Batteaumen and women, many of whom will dress in 18th Century clothing, will gently float with the current of the river, just as their ancestors did during the late 1700s and early 1800s when the boats carried crops, mainly tobacco.

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Festival Chairman Ralph Smith, who’s been involved with the event for 27 years, said he was excited about the upcoming event, which draws hundreds to the stops.

“No two years have been the same,” he said of the event’s uniqueness.

Smith said he’s expecting the water in the river next week to be fairly low, which could potentially cause issues for the flat-bottomed bateaux.

He said that 23 bateaux will be part of this year’s activities, along with one dugout canoe — a large, carved-out log.

Smith confirms that both The Spirit of Buckingham and The Slate River, Buckingham-based teams, are among those that will participate.

The bateaux will set sail on Saturday morning from Lynchburg, stopping Saturday afternoon near Galt’s Mill, according to the website. On Sunday morning, the vessels will head for Bent Creek, scheduled to arrive just down river from the Route 60 Bridge on Sunday evening. Wingina will see the festival on Monday evening, while the bateaux will stop at Howardsville on Tuesday evening. Scottsville is the location for the Wednesday evening stop, while the former Solite landing at the Slate River is set for Thursday. On Friday evening, the teams will arrive at Cartersville, with Maiden’s Landing being the final stop on Saturday afternoon.

Vito’s Pizza will provide food at Bent Creek, the Lovingston Volunteer Fire Department will have food for sale at Wingina, and the First Baptist Church of Dillwyn’s youth group will sell food at Slate River.

Smith, who journeys with The Anthony Rucker, said he hopes people will come down to the stops and see the boats.

“I hope that people are aware of the fact that they’re welcome to put their kayaks and canoes in the water and join us,” he said. “This is really a participant event.”

The goal of the festival is to bring attention to the James River and its role as an important natural resource.

More information on the festival, along with events and stop locations, visit