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Jam to raise money for new accessible access to Yellow River
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A year ago, it rained for the inaugural Yellow River Jam. This year, good weather is expected Saturday when the second Yellow River Jam kicks off Saturday, Oct. 1. The event begins with a paddle down seven miles of the Yellow River from Mt. Tabor Access in Almon to the Yellow River Park.

Following the paddle, the jamming begins with several musical acts highlighting the day-long event, hosted by the Yellow River Water Trails and the Georgia Conservancy.

“Every year we’re expecting it to get bigger and better and more exciting,” said Tonya Bechtler, a member of the Yellow River Water Trail. “It’s a wonderful partnership between the Yellow River Water Trail and the city of Porterdale.

“The city of Porterdale has embraced that they are a river city and is committed to expanding recreational opportunities that enhance business opportunities,” she said. “Tourism and outdoor recreation are huge economic drivers.”

The event started last year when the Georgia Conservancy announced it would hold a paddle on the Yellow River. That’s when the idea for the Jam: Boats, Bands and Brews, came into being. [See “Yellow River Jam welcomes paddlers from around the state,” at]

This year, the day starts with the dedication of the Yellow River Disc Golf Course at 8:15 a.m. The course, the only one within 20 miles of Porterdale, was built with donations of money and resources, costing about $40,000. Village staff helped build the course. [See “Porterdale finally gets its disc golf course,” at]
The dedication will be followed by the first Yellow River Disc Golf Course Showdown tournament.

At noon, the first band – Scarlet Stitch takes the stage at the park. Other bands playing are Leighlynn Shine, Stratocats and Brian Cameron and The Reluctant Saints.

Fundraiser for new river access

This year, all money raised during River Jam will be dedicated to creating a river access off Brown Bridge Road near the Career Academy, three miles upstream, Bechtler said.

“We already have a grant,” Bechtler said. “We got a county grant last year; because the county is in such dire straits, the Yellow River Trail is raising the money for an 80/20 percent match.

“Typically the counties or the cities pay the match, but we elected to pay it [because of] the stressed economy of our local county,” she said.

The new access point will be handicap accessible, which makes launching a kayak easier for those with disabilities, for seniors and for families, Bechtler said. The location on the southeast bank of the river near the bridge over Brown Bridge Road is owned by the county. The cost of building the access ramp and a parking area is $120,000.

“We have close to 25 vendors including food and makers and Roth Wild Adventures, who have recently located their outfitting operation in Porterdale will be renting boats and paddle boards in advance of their grand opening on Oct. 8,” Josephine Kelly, Porterdale Downtown Development Director wrote about the event.

An artist’s market, a display of little houses, Art Car and the North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) native fish aquarium display will also be part of the event.

Bechtler said sponsorships from local businesses are the reason the festival can be held. Sponsors include:

Atlanta Arms, Bob Thomson, Steve Brown, Carter and Sloop, Chambers and Chamber, City of Covington, Conitech, Con South, Georgia Hot Tap, Georgia Power, Ginn Motor Company, Green River Builder, Jackson Lake HOA, Lowe Construction and Development, Main Street Porterdale, Morgan Plaza, Newton County Water and Sewer Authority, Newton Federal S & L, Porterdale Mill and Lofts, Real Living Realty, Sellars Auto, Snapping Shoals EMC, Turning Points and United Bank.
The Yellow River Paddle that precedes the festival is one of 12 Heartland River of Georgia trips. For more information, visit