River Jam and Crawdad Boil on the square

A little girl plays with bubbles during the 2014 River Jam and Crawdad Boil.(Photo: Submitted photo)

After 14 years of hosting the Dam Jam in Ozark, organizers took a chance and moved it to downtown Springfield four years ago hoping to attract a bigger crowd.
“We planned for 1,000 people the first year and we had 3,000,” said Joe Pitts, executive director of the James River Basin Partnership. “It has grown since then.”
The event, which is a fundraiser for JRBP, has been revamped and renamed the River Jam and Crawdad Boil and will be held from 5-11 p.m. Saturday on the square downtown. Four local bands — Goat Milk Honey, Sunset to Burns, Deep Fried Squirrel and the Shotgun Brothers Band — will perform, so bring a chair or blanket and come listen to the music.
“I remember block parties in the ’50s and ’60s, and it’s kind of like a big old block party,” said Pitts.
Admission is free, but food and drinks will be for sale, including crawfish from Louisiana. Pitts said they have traditionally sold out of crawfish quickly and are trying to be better prepared this year.
“The first year, we had no idea how many crawdads to order so we ordered 100 pounds and sold out in less than an hour. The next year, we ordered 300 pounds and sold out in an hour and fifteen minutes,” he said.
This year, they may order 1,000 pounds. Other food, like burgers, will be for sale, too. Proceeds from the food and beer sales, as well as vendor fees, is how the organization makes its money from this event.
The James River Basin Partnership is a grass-roots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving and protecting the water quality of the springs, rivers, and lakes in the James River Watershed which consists of almost a million acres of land.
Many of the vendors that will be at the event have something to do with the outdoors or the environment, said Melissa Bettes, project manager.
Moving the music festival to Springfield has been a good call because it’s grown, said Pitts.
“Last year, we planned for 5,000 people but had close to 7,000,” he said. “The crowd rotates throughout the day. This year we would love to see 8,000 or more. The more people, the more food, the more beer, the more money we get. It’s our largest fundraising event for general revenue, and that allows us to do our work.”
Want to go?
What: River Jam and Crawdad Boil
When: 5-11 p.m. Saturday
Where: Springfield’s Park Central Square.
FYI: If there is inclement weather, it will be held Sunday. The fundraiser is free to attend, but food and drinks will be for sale, including beer from Springfield Brewing Co. and crawfish from Louisiana. Bring a chair or blanket, but leave the coolers at home. The event is a fundraiser for the James River Basin Partnership.
Info: http://www.jamesriverbasin.com/

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