Batteau Festival Takes River Route Back In Time

The 29th annual Batteau Festival is a trip down the James River, steeped in history. Thousands of onlookers cheered on re-enactors, and their wooden Batteau boats, as they started their trip early Saturday morning. 18 boats will be making the 120 mile trek down to Richmond. Crews eat and sleep about the homemade boats, and should arrive in Richmond on Sunday, June 22nd. It's the same type of route tobacco traders took over 100 years ago. Stephanie Keener from Lynch's Landing says the Batteau style of boat shipped goods between Lynchburg and Richmond for years. Keener described them as "...the tractor trailers that took tobacco, all sorts of goods, up and down the river.." Batteau ships are all made by hand, just like they were hundreds of years ago, and can take months to complete. Thousands showed up early to see the boats, and hear the cheers of the boat crew themselves. Participants are more like re-enactors, dressing up as authentic Batteau ship workers from 1770. The boats safely launched, on-lookers enjoyed the view of the river, the live music, and even got demonstrations of authentic blacksmith craftsmanship. Just like the Batteau shipmen, blacksmith Chris Lynch loves to demonstrate his work, just like it was done in 1770. Lynch says "There are people still, out there getting their hands dirty, doing things the old way."