When I was in 8th grade, my family purchased some land near the James River and began to build a house. All of our spare time from that moment until we moved in, was spent on that project. The James River became a quick source of refreshment and just about my favorite place in the world at that time. During my high school Summers, my dog Jessie would accompany me and my inner tube to the Frazier bridge where we would plop in for a short float to the Shelvin Rock access each afternoon. Jessie was an excellent swimmer and a perfectly simple boat motor. Her short tail made a perfect handle. She was so smart and I was able to teach her commands for left and right, which meant the motor came equipped with power-steering. Later in life, with canoes and kayaks, I explored as much of the James and other Ozark’s rivers as I could, but the James still feels like home.
A few years ago, through my work with Ozark Adventures, I became aware of an event put on by the James River Basin Partnership called River Rescue and Dam Jam. This annual event begins in the morning with a volunteer crew of canoeing/kayaking trash and debris picker uppers. Efforts are focused on a particular stretch of the James River. That evening, in celebration of the clean-up, a concert is held for the public with local bands, food, and fun. Since becoming involved, I look forward to it every year.
This year was no exception, but the Dam Jam 2012 was a much larger event than in previous years. The concert was held on the square in downtown Springfield last weekend and hosted a really sweet line up of folk and bluegrass bands. There were ticket booths where proceeds all went to the benefit of JRBP and tickets could be used to purchase a plate of boiled crawdads, a bratwurst, beer or to participate in a giant water balloon war.
I took the time to wander the square and look into each of the booths. There were so many cool things going on and something that people of all ages could enjoy. This was the best year yet. For me, this push to help keep the James River beautiful and to make it such a great celebration means something special. If you haven’t participated before, mark it on your 2013 calendar for June. You won’t be disappointed.