Appalachian Mountain Brewery Hosts Annual Rail Jam

Ashley Goodman

Appalachian Mountain Brewery hosted its fourth annual Daniel Boone Rail Jam Saturday. It was a ski and snowboarding event open to the public and held on slopes made of snow produced on site, despite the warm weather.

The event was hosted on St. Patrick’s Day at Horn in the West and included new ramp locations and rail options for the riders, $4000 in total cash prizes and local food vendors. The event was preceded by the Town of Boone’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Rail Jam is held to support the We Can So You Can Foundation, which will help with  improvement of the Daniel Boone Amphitheater, where this event was held.

We Can So You Can Foundation is a mission driven public charity created by Appalachian Mountain Brewery. This foundation supports the communities it serves through investment in social-minded businesses engaged primarily in education, agriculture and renewable energy, according to its website.

Their mission focuses on sustainability, community and philanthropy.

The proceeds from Rail Jam will go toward the Revamp the Amp campaign, which supports the Daniel Boone Amphitheater.

The categories for this event included women’s, intermediate and advanced.

Danny Wilcox, director of retail operations at Appalachian Mountain Brewery and event organizer of Rail Jam, said there were no qualifications to participate and riders of any level were welcome.

“We pull riders from up and down the East Coast, but most of them are local riders that ride every weekend here in the area,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said the idea for this event stemmed from his experience with snowboarding when he was younger. He would compete as a rider in his local area and travel to compete in farther areas.

“I just wanted to find ways to promote the riders that ride like how I used to and give them a stage to perform at,” Wilcox said.

Rail Jam was created in the backyard of Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Wilcox said. He had the idea of creating a winter festival centered around snowboarders and skiers, so it was first experimented with at his workplace.

“We put up a little ski ramp and a rail and had a ski competition,” Wilcox said. “It worked out really well.”

The brewery then moved the event’s location in the hopes that it could grow into a bigger event. Wilkes said they hoped to make it a long term winter festival, working with the town, university and other local partners.

The snow for the event was made on site.

The event brought in a semi-truck full of ice and hired an ice company to lay out snow on the slopes. They did this by using a machine similar to a wood chipper and sprayed the snow out with a hose, Wilcox said.

“Last year at the amphitheater, the ski ramp was actually on the stage and this year we brought it to the center to have a larger ski ramp and more rails,” Wilcox said.

Since the conception of this event, Rail Jam has taken place for four consecutive years. This year’s event was hosted by a number of sponsors, including Appalachian Ski Mountain, Mast General Store, Appalachian Cookie Co. and more.

Carolina West Wireless was another sponsor for this event.

Todd Elledge, the marketing director for Carolina West, said that they have been sponsoring Rail Jam since last year.

“We provide free of charge wireless internet to areas such as the concession stand and ticket cabin,” Elledge said.

Another sponsor to the event was Salomon, a sports equipment and apparel retailer who contributed as a product sponsor.

Mike Lamb, a worker at the event for the company, said they have been sponsoring this event for the past three years. Salomon provides equipment for Rail Jam and “products for students to walk away with from the event,” Lamb said.

During the five hour event, around 2,500 to 3,000 people came through the doors, Wilcox said.

“This is an incredible sport we have up here in the High Country that’s unique to the mountains,” Wilcox said.

Story by: Laura Boaggio, Intern Reporter

Photos by: Brendan Hoekstra, Intern Photographer