The second annual Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, May 30, at the Oak Ridge Marina and Pavilion in Melton Lake Park. The annual festival was launched a year ago by the three Rotary clubs of Oak Ridge.
This year, the festival will be preceded by an evening social event and beer garden on Friday, May 29, at the park. For the dragon boat paddlers and other visitors from out of town, the host hotel is Comfort Inn of Oak Ridge.
The festival’s organizing committee is headed by Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge. Chairs and members of the steering committee and subcommittees are members of this club, the Breakfast Club, and the Sunset Club.
“Last year’s Dragon Boat Festival was a rousing success for the greater Oak Ridge community,” Watson said. “Team spirit and playful competition were the order of the day.
“Good food, a parade, other special events, and a big crowd made this a wonderful event for all involved. The event raised funds for the important community needs of Oak Ridge and Anderson County.”
An estimated 5,000 people attended the all-day event last year. Thirty teams competed in dragon boat races. A team from Charlotte, North Carolina, captured the most wins, and two teams from Oak Ridge National Laboratory finished in the top five.
Watson said the purpose of the festival is to provide a venue for dragon boat races, offer food and musical entertainment, and raise funds for nonprofit service organizations and special projects, such as the ongoing development by local Rotarians of a smart phone app to promote tourism in Oak Ridge. The boat-racing event will celebrate Oak Ridge’s waterfront and signature rowing venue.
The committee again contracted with Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing LLC of Knoxville to operate the races safely and provide the dragon boats, other equipment, and training. The company has successfully managed races in Alabama, Arkansas, Montana, and Tennessee.
Event sponsorship levels are $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000. The entry fee for one dragon boat team is $850.
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 San Francisco to Chattanooga.
The Dragon Boat Festival races will be an entertaining competition among teams of 20 persons each—18 paddlers, a caller, and a steerer (provided by Dynamic). The teams will come from community employers and organizations, many of which are signing up to become corporate sponsors of the event.
The goals of the committee are to double the number of teams in the races and bring in twice as much money for the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The purpose of the fund is to meet needs in the community in educational, children’s, and health programs.
“All proceeds from the event will stay in Oak Ridge and Anderson County,” said Kelly Callison, president of the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club. “The funds will support literacy projects, science fairs, musical organizations, and local nonprofit service organizations such as the Free Medical Clinic, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., and Children’s Museum.”
“This festival should be a great event that brings the community together for fun while raising funds to benefit the community,” said Sue Anne Lewis, president of the Oak Ridge Sunset Club.
Members of the steering committee are Dean Deatherage, logistics chair, Sunset Club; Albert Beasley and Kathy Budai, administrative co-chairs, Breakfast Club; and Leslie England, events chair, Rotary Club of Oak Ridge.
Subcommittees have been appointed to handle event volunteers, infrastructure, beer garden, registration, marketing and media, vendors, transportation, children’s area, licenses and permits, and safety and security.
For more information, email Leslie England at [email protected] or call her at (865) 318-1910. To register, visit the Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival website at http://oakridge.racedragonboats.com/. You can also access the Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival page on Facebook to see announcements and photographs.