Drive-in concerts are the latest pandemic trend, but the Elk River has been home to that trend for the last 13 years — and year 14 is no different.
The 14th annual Elk River Boat Party, hosted by Mike and Bridgett Jackson, is set to begin 3 p.m. Saturday, July 4, and go until dark. Bridgett Jackson said this year is extra special because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We worried that this year would be the end of the annual Elk River boat party," she said. "We stayed positive and held it together, kept praying that things would turn around and get us to this day, and here we are."
Kozmic Mama will be returning this year, too. The band performs a variety of original and cover songs across multiple genres, including soul, motown, blues and rock. Next year will mark 30 years that Kozmic Mama have been playing throughout North Alabama and South Tennessee.
Bridgett Jackson said they've been "a repeated request by our boaters over the years," adding the public really seems to enjoy the traditional style of the group.
During the boat party intermission, the Jacksons will hand out free koozies as a thank-you to everyone who attends. Bridgett Jackson said they are paid for by the event's sponsors, "who make this fun day continue to happen."
A full list of the sponsors is below. With their help, the Jacksons believe this year could be the best one yet for the boat party.
"We know everyone is eager to get out and see everyone since the quarantine," Bridgett Jackson said. "We try counting the boats and estimate usually around 300 to 350 boats every year — depending on the weather, of course. Many of the people that attend this event plan their July 4 holiday around it and stay on the water all weekend."
While social distancing is encouraged, there will still be opportunities for people to enjoy ski boarding, tubing and more, she said. The Alabama Marine Police and the Athens-Limestone Rescue Squad will be on duty, watching for safety and serving as litter patrol.
Visit the 14th annual Elk River Boat Party on Facebook for more information on the event.
As always, the only way to get to the party is by boat. From the Tennessee River, go north on the Elk River and under the U.S. 72 bridge. Turn left into Anderson Creek, and the party is on the right.
The nearest boat launch is the Lee-Hi (U.S. 72) Bridge boat launch.
The following are sponsoring this year's event:
• Mike Jackson Home Builders
• Steve and Theresa Gatlin
• SOS Insurance
• Southern Charm
• Elk River Market
• Classic Sign Works
• John M. Totten
• Butler Realty
• Cleartrack HR LLC
• TriGreen Equipment
• William G. Matthews
• Giles County Furniture
• Hodges Barnett River Compound
• Murrey Chevrolet
• Rogersville Hardware
• Growing Younger
• Brindley Construction
• Advance Electrical
• Grayson Carter and Sons
• Allen Johnson Farms
• ALFA Insurance Agency