When the Georgia Conservancy announced it would be hosting a paddle through Newton County on the Yellow River, it seemed like a good idea to stage an event to welcome the kayak enthusiasts from all over the state.
“We wanted to roll out the red carpet for the Conservancy,” said Tonya Bechtler, one of the organizers of the event, Saturday, October 3.
That’s when the idea for the Yellow River Jam: Boats, Bands and Brews came into being.
“When the Georgia Conservancy and other river networks picks our river for an event, that means a lot,” said Newton County resident and kayak enthusiast, Cheryl Delk.
“It puts us on the map,” Bechtler agreed. “The Village of Porterdale has been going through a Renaissance. It’s an art community and a river community. We’ve been trying to get a fall festival [here] and with the Georgia Conservancy coming, we wanted to tie it to the river.”
The Paddle is part of the Conservancy’s 2015 Heartland Rivers of Georgia Paddle series. In boats, canoes or kayaks, participants will launch from the Mt. Tabor Road area in Almon and travel down a seven-mile stretch of the river, rambling through Newton County passed woods, sandbars, wildlife, even the ruins of a bridge destroyed by Gen. W. T. Sherman during the Civil War.
By the time the paddlers arrive at Yellow River Park around noon, the Jam will have started. Bands performing include local groups Sweet Harmony and Tedo Stone, and South Carolina bands Susto and Johnny Delaware.
Those preferring to stay on land can set up on the lawns or wander down Main Street to try explore the shops of the historic mill village. Bechtler said a temporary disc golf course will be set up in the park to demonstration of the proposed Yellow River Disc Golf Course.
The North American Native Fish Association (NANFA) will have a booth, sharing information about some of the threatened local aquatic creatures such as fresh water mollusks, insects such as damsel flies, crayfish and other native fish, Bechtler said.
“We have some threatened fish that only live in clean water, which tells you something about the water quality [of the Yellow River] today,” she said.
At the end of the day, she said, the creatures will be re-released into the wild.
“The event is designed just to get people to the river,” she said, “give them a chance to see the park trails and encourage them to shop at local businesses.”
She said she hopes the Jam will become an annual event.
Kayaks will be available to rent.
Though the Paddle costs $35, the Jam is free. Bechtler estimates the event will cost around $10,000 to produce. Organizers are seeking sponsors from the local business community.
The jam is hosted by Main Street Porterdale, the Yellow River Water Trail, Georgia River Network, the Georgia Conservancy and Georgia Water Trails. For more information about the event, visit the Yellow River Jam Facebook page.
Register for the Yellow River Paddle at the Georgia Conservancy web site.