By Nathan Ham
This St. Patrick’s Day will feature a special treat for skiing and snowboarding fans in the High Country. The Daniel Boone Rail Jam is set to take place on Saturday, March 17 with warm-ups beginning at 5 p.m. and the competition starting at 6 p.m.
This is the fourth year of the event. The first two years of the Daniel Boone Rail Jam took place at Appalachian Mountain Brewery. However, as the crowds started to grow, the event had to be moved to its new home last year and this year, the Daniel Boone Amphitheater.
“The first two years at Appalachian Mountain Brewery, we had almost 2,000 people trying to get in to watch the competition so we needed to find a new space. This is our second year at the amphitheater,” said Shauna Godwin, who is organizing the event as part of Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s We Can So You Can Foundation.
Fans and competitors will see a few new changes to the event this year, adding more fun to the rail jam.
“We have redesigned the ramp once again. This year we are making it even bigger and it is going through the center of the amphitheater where the audience usually is. There will be the audience on both sides and the VIP section will stand on the stage and watch,” Godwin said. “There will be more features to choose from this year so people that want to throw in multiple tricks will have the opportunity to do that.”
There will be food trucks, food vendors, local businesses and all of the local breweries in town will be at the event as well.
For the skiers and snowboarders, there will be three competition groups: Intermediate, advanced and women. Competitors can pre-register by March 16 for an entry fee of $10 or register on the day of the event for $20. Spectator tickets are $5 and on-site parking is free.
All of the proceeds from the event will go to the “Revamp the Amp” project that is raising money to improve and enhance the audience experience at the Daniel Boone Amphitheater.
“The amphitheater is such a beautiful, wonderful venue in the middle of town that’s only used for Horn in the West. Part of the ongoing project is to make the place more user-friendly and to use it for more than just Horn in the West,” Godwin said.
Godwin has helped with the Daniel Boone Rail Jam for the past two years but has also worked off and on with Horn in the West since 2003 so she’s happy to see the progress being made through “Revamp the Amp.”
“Last year, we were able to install new lights and this year, the focus right now is to get a good power source out there. We’re trying to do what we can to help keep it beautiful,” said Godwin.
While the Daniel Boone Amphitheater has been a part of Boone’s history and tradition for decades, Godwin is still always amazed to find out how many people don’t know it exists.
“It’s crazy how many people tell me that they’ve just never been there before. Even after all these years and the wear and tear, it still looks the same, it just needs a little facelift,” she said.
A large crowd is expected this season, not only because of the nice weather forecasts for the weekend with some sun and 50-degree temperatures, but also because of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that is taking place in the town of Boone. The parade will start at the Poplar Grove Extension and travel east on King Street at 2 p.m.
“We’re certainly expecting a big turnout this year, the word has gotten out. Even though we’re bringing our own snow, the fact that it has snowed the last couple of days, it has helped people get back in the spirit of things. The more people there are, the more fun it is, the more support there is for the competitors,” Godwin said. “We had 2,500 people in attendance last year and I’m sure we’ll surpass that this year.”
Be sure to visit their website where tickets are half price now through Saturday morning. Competitors can also pre-register on the website for half price entry fee.
For more information on the Daniel Boone Rail Jam, visit their website at http://danielboonerailjam.com/.
Photos from Tuesday afternoon test runs
Scenes from last year’s Rail Jam