Dragon boats are ready to race

Agnes Hapka

September 27, 2013

POINT PLEASANT — The Dragon Boat Festival is tomorrow at Krodel Park, and after a bit of practice, rowing teams are confident and ready to go.

The festival kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday, with an opening ceremony and a rendition of the national anthem by Joey Wilcoxen. The mayor of Point Pleasant will paint the dragon eyes, and at 9:30 a.m. races are set to begin. The dragon boats will be racing through the morning and into the afternoon.

Each dragon boat will be populated by 22 people — 10 rowers on each side, a drummer who helps set the pace, and an experienced steersman. This is a family-friendly festival with lots for everyone to see and do, said Jack Fowler, director of the Point Pleasant River Museum.

“Kids young and old will enjoy the inflatable bounce house and slide, great food and fun for everyone. This is a day you will enjoy and long remember,” said Fowler.

The festival is organized by the Point Pleasant River Museum, and Dragon Boat Races are the main event; the 20 team-members, will paddle the boats up and down the lake in heats of two.

“With the help of 22 Dragons of Montreal, this benefit festival will help us all to celebrate everything we love about life on the water,” said Fowler.

The Canadian company 22 Dragons, Fowler said, has provided all of the necessary equipment. Fowler added that be security boats on the water and EMS personnel will be present in case of any emergency. Each dragon boat will be outfitted with paddles and life-preservers.

Fowler said that each 40-foot boat will have a highly trained dragon boat pilot whose role is to expertly guide the rowers.

“The people in each canoe are employees, family members or just friends,” said Fowler.

The boats arrived this past Sunday and have been on the lake since Wednesday, where they were available for familiarization and practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Other events and attractions at the festival will include some RiverWorks Discovery exhibits, kids’ inflatables and Bungee Bounce, and various activities. Teams will have an area at the park for teams to set up a tent or canopy to serve as a base of operation. Breakfast will be available, as well as a large menu of food items, soups, baked goods, soft drinks and ice cream.

Those who would like more information about Saturday’s festival may call the Point Pleasant River Museum at (304) 674-0144.