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Steveston Dragon Boat Festival rows on

By Matthew Cheung

Published 12:35 PDT, Mon August 15, 2022

The Steveston Dragon Boat Festival has returned to help people celebrate the end of summer through dragon boat races. 

“We’re very happy to be able to welcome racers back to one of the province’s largest dragon boat races for the first time since 2019,” says Dominic Lai, development, marketing, and operations director for Dragon Boat BC. “The Steveston Dragon Boat Festival is a unique event that provides a unique race environment for communities in the southern part of the Lower Mainland, and we’re ready to return to celebrate the end of summer on the Fraser River.”

Steveston will host many competitors from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the interior of B.C., Washington state, and Oregon. The event will take place on Aug. 20 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Spectators can watch the race around the Britannia Heritage Shipyards area along Westwater Drive and Railway Avenue. Spectators are recommended to walk or bike to the venue. For those travelling by car, parking will be available at Homma elementary for a minimum donation of $5, with proceeds going to the Richmond Food bank. 

Dragon boating teams are made up of a total of 22 people: 20 paddlers, one drummer, and a steer person. Dragon boating combines Chinese culture and sport; traditionally, races will not start due without the ceremonial summoning of the spirit of the dragons from their high perches in the remote mountains and clouds. 

The sport initially started in mainland China and slowly spread to its surrounding regions. When it reached Hong Kong, the sport became a local tradition celebrated by fishers and Taoist temples. 

Due to British influences, dragon boat racing became a community sport, and eventually the sport reached Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. Six dragon boats were gifted to Vancouver by the Hong Kong government to participate in exhibition races during Expo 86, which led to the sport gaining rapid popularity across Canada. 

Participants can chose to race in either in the mixed or women’s division, where they will race at least three times during the day. After competing in a race, medals will be presented in the beverage garden one hour after the race has ended. 

The event will feature many attractions such as a marketplace for fans of the sport or aspiring racers who will be able to purchase paddles and merchandise, among other products. There will also be food trucks and a beverage garden at the event, including food service providers like Chatime, Red Truck Beer, and Fries and Things. Red Truck Beer will also perform live music.

For more information about the festival, visit dragonboatbc.ca

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