Sat 8/11 @ 8AM-3PM
This year, the Cleveland Dragon Boat Festival takes place in, well, Lorain’s Black River. Lorain may seem like a bit of a trek, but it’s not like you have to travel all the way to China. Plus, no experience is necessary and all ages and fitness levels are welcome to get in on the action.
Dragon boats are about 40 feet long with teams of 20-plus powering them, along with a drummer and a seaworthy steersman/steerswoman. Each race is 250 meters, so they last just two to four minutes. Before the races, teams will learn proper paddling techniques, and the spirit of unity and endurance.
The fest’s website describes the legend behind it all. Over 2,000 years ago in southern China, dragon boat races began as a fertility rite, and to protect people from evil spirits, with the dragon of Asia as the symbol of water.
Later, the races took on a second meaning: the saga of Qu Yuan, fourth century B.C. patriot and poet who stood for political reform and truth. When he learned of corruption and devastation in the kingdom of Chu, Qu Yuan committed ritual suicide by leaping into the Miluo River, today’s Hunan Province, holding a huge rock. His followers raced in fishing boats to save him while beating on their drums and splashed oars in the water to keep water dragons away.
We still need a hero, perhaps now more than ever. Perhaps that’s why Cleveland Dragon Boat Fest organizers partnered with Asia Services in Action, Inc., the ASIA Mission is to empower Asian American Pacific Islanders in Northeastern Ohio for culturally- and linguistically-appropriate community resources.
Participant admission ranges from $5-$25, but it’s free to watch.
[Written by Lucy McKernan]