2019 Dragon Boat Festival on Paducah's Riverfront

PADUCAH - The 2019 Dragon Boat Festival on Paducah's Riverfront will be held on Saturday, September 21. 

The festival, organized by the River Discovery Center, starts at 10 am. 

Sixteen paddlers and one drummer are one each team and the teams will compete throughout the day. The races are conducted in heats with 3 teams racing per heat, and each team will race a minimum of two times.The race course is 250 meters and boats race against the current. The event is rain or shine.

Each team has 16 paddlers and one drummer. The drummer’s official purpose is to beat the drum to help keep their team paddling in sync. Teams who are most synchronized usually have the lowest times. The other purpose of the drummer is to build team spirit. Most teams have a theme and the drummer is usually dressed accordingly. During the lunch break, there will be a “drummer fashion show” where each team’s drummer walks the Wilson Stage “catwalk” showing off their costume to the festival crowd.

Awards will be given to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams. Teams get a trophy and team members get a medal and festival t-shirt. Special awards will be given for the best team area, best-dressed drummer, best team t-shirt and most team spirit. A children's area will be set up during the event, providing face painting, balloon animals and inflatable games. 

This year, in the Children’s Area, there will be Putt-Putt, a play area specifically geared for toddlers and glitter braids. Also included in the children’s area are inflatables, face painting, and balloon animals. Parents can purchase a $10 wristband for unlimited access to all the activities in the children’s area.

Entrance to the festival is free of charge. On Tuesday, September 17th through Thursday, September 29th, there will be practice sessions for all the teams from 4-7pm at the riverfront. The public is free to come to the riverfront and watch those practice sessions.  

The Broadway entrance to the riverfront will close Friday, September 20 at 4 pm to allow teams to begin setting up their tents, tables, and chairs.

At approximately 9:30 am on race day there will be an ancient race ritual, the Eye Dotting Ceremony which represents the awakening of the dragons from their slumber and is meant to galvanize their spirit for the upcoming races.  

This year’s teams are sponsored by Ingram Barge, Marquette, Triangle, US Bank, Western Rivers Boat Management, CFSB, Bacon Farmer Workman, WKCTC, Orthopedic Institute, CSI, and Cook Coal Terminal. 

Dragon boat racing started in China over 2,500 years ago and has long been their National Sport. In North America, it has grown from relative obscurity 20 years ago, to over 1,000 annual events with over 1,000,000 participants. Dragon boat racing is visually spectacular and easy to learn and anyone can do it, regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability. It is a sport where men and women compete together in an unbiased and fun environment and is now the fastest growing team sport in North America. It has also become an extremely popular team building activity for community organizations and corporations. The dragon boats are 40 foot long canoe-like boats with colorful dragon heads and tails.    

For more information on the event, visit the link below or call Julie Harris at 270-575-9958 or email her at jharris@riverdiscoverycenter.org.

Proceeds from the event go towards the educational programs of the center. Now in its 8th year, the festival has raised over $300,000 for the Center.  Sponsors for the festival are Ingram Barge, Western Rivers Boat Management, Marquette Transportation, and News Talk 94.3 WKYX.

On the Net:

RIver Discovery Center's 2019 Dragon Boat Festival


Published 12:01 PM, Saturday Sep. 07, 2019
Updated 05:47 PM, Friday Sep. 13, 2019

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