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June 30, 2014

Elk River Boat Party set for July 5

— Bridgett Browning admits she’s never been much of a water person. So, when she attended her first Elk River Boat Party a few years back she didn’t know what to expect.

Yet, after spending a few lazy July days with good music, good friends and good fun, she has come to love it.

Browning, the girlfriend of the party’s founder Mike Jackson, said people ride by Jackson’s pier all the time — near the mouth of the Elk River and Anderson Creek —asking about the party.

“It’s really a community, family-oriented type thing that everyone can enjoy,” Browning said. “It brings people together … to just hang out, float and listen to good music. It’s free to the public and you catch some rays.”

The annual event, which happens every year the Saturday closest to the Fourth of July, is set for Saturday. This party starts at 3 p.m. and lasts until dark.

The idea originated eight years ago when Jackson and his daughter Beth decided to invite Huntsville-based band Kozmic Mama to play on the water near their home, known as General Jackson.

He had recently built a new boathouse with an upper deck and thought it was the ideal place for the band to play. 

When the band let loose, more than 90 boaters showed up for the event.

Since that time, the party has become a tradition that includes hundreds of boats that raft together on the river.  

“We really enjoy it,” Jackson said. “People come by everyday and ask about it.”

The event has continued to grow through the years. According to Jackson, the party had about 300 boats and between 3,000 and 3,500 people at the last two gatherings. 

His motto, “Come on out.”

From fireworks shows to boat decorating contests and free koozies, the Jacksons and area sponsors always have something up their sleeves.

One fixture at every party is Kozmic Mama, a band “steeped in the rootsy tradition” that performs a variety of covers and originals ranging from classic and Motown to blues and rock 'n' roll.

The Elk River Boat Party is a boat-only event. From the Tennessee River, go north on the Elk River and under Lee Hi Bridge (U.S. 72 bridge). Turn left into Anderson Creek and the party is on the right. The nearest boat launch is the Lee Hi Bridge boat launch.

The Jacksons credit sponsors for making the event possible. They include Mike Jackson Home Builders, New South Concrete Construction, Haney Equipment, Growing Younger, Grayson Carter Endodontics, Quality Vinyl Wholesalers, Lin-Z-Dru’s, Advanced Electrical Services, Larry Long’s, Gerald’s Auto Body, Realtor Brenda Wilson and Classic Sign Works.

Athens-Limestone Rescue Squad will be on-site and the Alabama Marine Police will patrol near the party to ensure partygoers have a safe holiday weekend.

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