Commit to a competitive sport and community support.
That could be the motto of the inaugural Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival, a fundraiser for community nonprofit service organizations that will be launched by the three Rotary clubs of Oak Ridge.
Already at least 20 boat teams are being organized, with more expected to register soon at http://oakridge.racedragonboats.com/.
At least 15 companies and organizations have paid or pledged a total of more than $25,000.
The Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, May 31, at the Oak Ridge Marina and Pavilion in Melton Lake Park.
Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing LLC of Knoxville has been hired to operate the races safely and provide the dragon boats, other equipment and training. The company will provide a person to steer each boat.
“All boats must have a minimum of eight women,” said Penny Behling, president of Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing. “Another important rule is that each team should have 20 paddlers and one drummer—usually someone smaller and lighter than the paddlers.”
A committee of Rotarians from all three clubs, including the city manager and one member of City Council, are meeting weekly to make the event a major success.
Plans are being made for exciting dragon boat races, awards, food and beverage vendors, a beer garden, tents for company picnics and transportation to get people to the waterfront from large parking areas at places like Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge Campus, on Briarcliff Road.
“The purpose of the festival is to provide a venue for dragon boat races, sell food and drinks, and raise funds for nonprofit service organizations in the community,” said Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge.
The boat-racing event will celebrate Oak Ridge’s waterfront and signature rowing venue, he added.
The other two clubs are the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary and Oak Ridge Sunset Rotary clubs.
A dragon boat is a long, low boat adorned with a snarling dragonhead at the boat’s front end, as in the Chinese tradition. Dragon boat races have become popular events in many U.S. cities, ranging in size from Philadelphia to Knoxville.
The goal is to turn this inaugural boat race into an annual fundraising festival that will build up the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and meet needs in the Oak Ridge community in educational, children’s, and health programs. Examples are the Children’s Museum, local science fair, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., and Free Medical Clinic.
Event sponsorship levels are $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000. The entry fee for one dragon boat team is $750.
Companies that have paid at least $1,000 to the Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival’s Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund are Akins Public Strategies, Enrichment Federal Credit Union, Imprint Impressions, Materials and Chemistry Laboratory Inc., ORNL Federal Credit Union, Oak Ridge Utility District, and UCOR.
Companies that have made large pledges are Ben Franklin Motors, Edward Jones, Information International Associates, Isotek, Jefferson Middle School, Tennessee Valley Authority, TnBank, UT-Battelle, and Uranium Processing Facility. Many of these companies will have a dragon boat team.
The organizing committee includes members of all three Rotary clubs, and the leaders are Jim Sumner, Keith Kahl and Leslie England. For more information, contact Leslie England at [email protected] or (865) 483-9444.