By Nathan Ham
The sixth year of the Daniel Boone Rail Jam will feature new ramps, terrific spectator views and two teams battling it out for the championship.
This year will feature the Appalachian Ski Mtn. team led by captain Kellen Baker taking on the Beech Mountain Resort team led by captain John Kevin Mullins.
“We have a new setup and as it has been put together, we are realizing how many different options that competitors are going to have. They will have an allotted amount of time to do as many runs as they want and the show will get better as the night goes on with the more runs that competitors take,” said event coordinator Shauna Godwin.
In years past, the ramp for the competitors went through the seating area at the Daniel Boone Amphitheater. This year, however, the ramp has been constructed at the stage.
“The view of the slope is incredible from any point in the amphitheater, on stage or off. It will be a really nice night of competitors doing their best tricks and the community coming together, celebrating and watching while having a good time,” said Godwin.
Each year, the Daniel Boone Rail Jam raises money to be used to modernize the Daniel Boone Amphitheater. Godwin, who is also the artistic director of Horn in the West, gets to be on both sides of the process, organizing the rail jam and then seeing where the funds go to improve the amphitheater.
“Every event we do, we’re working ultimately to our goal of making the facility more user-friendly so more groups can come in and do different productions,” Godwin said. “Last year we were able to replace the roof on the concession stand.”
One of the ongoing projects is to improve the power supply for the amphitheater.
“We’ve done some power upgrades but we’re continuing to do more and more so that the community can enjoy this facility a lot more,” says Godwin. “The amount of people that say they’ve never been to the amphitheater is staggering. Horn in the West is about to be in its 69th season and people I know around here say they’ve still never seen it.”
Last year, the Daniel Boone Rail Jam saw over 3,000 attendees and are anticipating to have that same big crowd again this year, even with Appalachian State University being on spring break. Godwin says that she sees lots of families come out to the event each year, so it’s much more than just an event for college students to attend.
Danny Wilcox, who founded the Daniel Boone Rail Jam and plays an integral role in the We Can So You Can Foundation at Appalachian Mountain Brewery, is excited for Saturday to get here.
“Everything we did with the new setup turned out better than I envisioned. The new setup completely enhanced the viewer’s visibility,” said Wilcox.
Some of the new things that spectators will see this year besides the new ramp setup include a bagpiper and Irish dance performers, an electronic DJ booth that will feature music and a fantastic light show, and a new racing format.
“The competition will kick off with an open qualifier so that any rider in the area that did not get an invitation to be on the two teams can come out and compete. Judges will be picking two riders from the qualifier to go on and compete in the main event,” Wilcox said.
The “jam session” format will feature riders taking as many runs in an allotted period of time. There will be intermissions and breaks with plenty of fun giveaways for the crowd. The competition should be over by 9 p.m. with an award ceremony to follow. The DJ group playing afterward will continue until around 10:30.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the door. There will be drinks from Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Beech Mountain Brewing and food from several food trucks available.
Four-time U.S. Grand Prix Champion and two-time Dew Cup Champion Louie Vito will return to Boone as a guest judge as he has in years past.
For more information on the rail jam or to purchase tickets, visit the event website at www.danielboonerailjam.com.