BatteauJRBF General Information

Don’t have a BATTEAU? You can still join us on the Mighty James River!

Have you ever thought about taking a canoe or kayak down the James during the Batteau Festival and then been confronted with questions and obstacles?
The JRBF can provide answers—and a truly unique experience for anyone who enjoys the river

  •  I don’t know the river. Is it safe for novice boaters and kids?

Everyone must make their own decision on what level of river rapids is safe. There are some rapids in the stretches of the James the festival covers. And yes, we do see some canoes capsize, but by and large, given normal water levels, someone with moderate abilities will do fine with the festival.  In high water situations extreme caution should be taken, and only experienced canoeists should consider being in the river.

  • Will there be other boaters in the same general area of the
    river with me?

There are hundreds of canoes and kayaks with the festival during the first weekend and then the number tapers down to a few dozen by week’s end. It’s a big river and if you want solitude that certainly is possible, but if you prefer to stay within sight of others that, too, is possible

  • I don’t know the places to put in and take out.

The putin and take-out locations where the festival begins and ends each day are available online or the Batteau Festival facebook page.

  • I don’t know how many miles of river make a good day.

The Festival strives to have the length of days be such that it’s a worthwhile day but not a burden to make it to camp. Water levels dictate a lot in terms of the ease of making the daily trip , generally the festival travels 13–21 miles each day

  •  I’d like to camp and do multiple days on the river, is that possible?

We have permission from landowners to camp at all Batteau Festival stops and ask a modest fee to cover expenses. Dinner meals are normally available for purchase from food vendors at all stops.  Ice is available from a festival vendor or available close by at all stops, and of course, portable toilets are provided at all sites.  We do ask that all participants provide their own drinking water, some emergency water is for sale from the ice vendor.  

  •  I don’t have a map of the river to know where I am.

The absolute best way to learn about the river and know your location while on the river is to purchase a James River Batteau Festival Trail atlas. The atlas has been created by the VCNS to help individuals navigate the river and also points out many historic features.  The JRBF Festival Trail Atlas is available in the online store associated with this website and is for sale at each camp location during the festival.

The James River Batteau Festival has brought tens of thousands of people to the James River during our 37 year history.  As the name states, the festival is a celebration of the Batteau and the Batteau Era.  But it also provides a wonderful opportunity for individuals in kayaks and canoes to participate, enjoy the river, and learn of the rich history of the Batteau Era.  

If you join us, enjoy the services we provide but still be aware that on the river nothing is certain and you should be as self sufficient as possible.   We ask for modest fees which are only used to pay the expenses of the festival and enable us to do this again next  year.  

The JRBF is only able to exist due to the generosity of the landowners  who graciously welcome us to their property during festival week.  Please do everything possible to protect their land and leave no trace of our presence to whatever extent possible.