Every year competitors descend on beautiful Lake Dora and the town of Tavares, Florida to participate in the annual Dragon Boat Festival. This ancient sport draws interest from professional athletes and amateur enthusiasts alike. The festival is typically held in April.
A rapidly growing sport, Dragon Boat racing has been around for over 2,000 years. Dragon Boat racing originated in China somewhere around 220 B.C. Today, over 2 million paddlers participate in this sport worldwide. Dragon boats are slender and graceful vessels, colored brightly and with a dragon as a figure head. Twenty paddlers propel the boat, moving in time to a drum beat. Each team will participate in two qualifying races which will then determine which division they place in for the final, third, race. The winner of the 1st divisional race is the competition’s overall champion and will leave with a trophy.
The Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival is sponsored by the Tavares Chamber of Commerce. The chamber arranges the boats, team training, and the scheduled festival events. Festival events include a team banquet, a welcome and introduction by a Master of Ceremonies, a team spirit competition, a traditional drumming performance, a fireworks display over the lake, Chinese acrobatics, Chinese dance, an awards ceremony and more. The festival lasts approximately two days with the races taking place on the second day.
By Becky Schaff