It’s time to awaken the dragon once again.
The ATB Financial Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival hits Henderson Lake Park July 6-8 and festival committee co-chair Dorinda Emery says there is plenty of excitement in and out of the water.
“We have teams coming from Calgary, Edmonton, Kallispell, Saskatoon and B.C., so they come from quite a distance and we’re certainly the largest dragon boat festival in Alberta,” said Emery, who co-chairs the committee with Keri Colwell. The festival first hit Henderson Lake in June 2002.
Opening ceremonies are scheduled for July 6 at 6:30 p.m. where the spirit of the dragon is traditionally awakened to ensure that spirit is with the festival all weekend.
Once the dragon is awakened, activities take place throughout the weekend. Exhibition races happen at 7:45 p.m. on July 6, and the competition takes place July 7-8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the lake. Sixty-five teams are registered, down from the 68 at last year’s festival. Three teams from Calgary dropped out of the competition due to inability to find practice space, she said.
“Last year we had a few more teams, but 65 is something we’re really comfortable with.”
New to the races on July 7 is a 2,000-metre men’s challenge. It’ll be the last race of the day, she said. Also a new addition to the Saturday events is the rose ceremony that follows the breast cancer survivor races on July 7 at approximately 11 a.m. This is a change in day and time from previous years. Six teams will be competing and the races will be immediately followed by the rose ceremony to take place on the bridge and peninsula close to the concession area and announcement booth around noon.
In the spirit of spirits, a wine and beer tasting is a new addition to the beer garden on July 6. The beer garden opens at 4 p.m. “It’s something we decided to try and do on Friday night because people don’t realize the beer gardens open then. So this way, it’s sort of a draw to get people to go there.”
There is no admission charge to attend the beer and wine tasting, and it’s open to everyone of legal drinking age, whether or not they’re on a dragon boat team. While the crews compete on Henderson Lake, performers will entertain on the grounds from 4-10 p.m. on July 6, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on July 7 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 8.
“We have a wonderful lineup of entertainers,” Emery said. “We’ve have the Soup of Flies playing Saturday night and on Sunday our finishing band is Who’s Yer Daddy.”
Double Jack, the opening act for Creedence Clearwater Revival, plays on July 7 at 2:30 p.m. “We’ve got a good mix. All the way from country to blues to rock, but lots of recognizable cover songs.”
A dance floor will be set up in front of the stage.
Other performers include Ammena Dancers on July 6 at 6:30 p.m., on July 7 the Hibikiya Drummers at 12:30 p.m. and Rocky Mountain Cloggers at 4:30 p.m., and Desert Wind Belly Dancers at 2:30 p.m. on July 8.
A children’s area will feature air jumps and kids’ activities.
About 50 food vendors will serve up great eats and a handful will sell specialty dragon boat merchandise.
Closing ceremonies are scheduled to take place around 4:30 p.m. on July 8.
More festival information is available at www.lethbridgedragonfest.ca.