On Saturday, July 5, the Hudson River Rowing Association (HRRA) will host Dutchess County’s first-ever Dragon Boat Race and Festival. The only dragon boat race to happen on the Hudson, the event will feature a friendly competition accompanied by a day-long Asian cultural festival on the waterfront offering children’s games, food and drink, souvenirs, dancing, and music.
The boats date back to 278 BCE in China, when Qu Yuan—an exiled poet, minister, and adviser to the Emperor of Chu—is said to have committed ritual suicide as protest against his nation’s corruption. According to popular legend, local villagers and fishermen paddled their boats to the middle of the river in which he had drowned, beating drums and scattering rice into the water to fend off fish and evil spirits. “Zhongzi,” or traditional rice dumplings, and dragon boat racing have become an important part of the Chinese national holiday Duanwu—the annual commemoration of the patriot’s sacrifice.
Join in the celebration and register a team of 20 friends, including paddlers, a drummer, and a steerer, to race a 40-foot-long fiberglass canoe, decorated with a carved wooden dragon head and tail. All proceeds will benefit Arts Mid-Hudson and the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation. Plus, stop by the HRRA docks early to catch the first launch of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual Balloon Festival, free and open to the public, at 6am.
The Dragon Boat Race and Festival will kick off at the HRRA Boathouse in Poughkeepsie with an opening ceremony at 9am and first race at 9:30am. Awaken the Dragon!