Oriental Boat Dragon Festival
Captain Jane Tigar
This is the first in a series of stories about Oriental, NC, one of those magical “stops” along the ICW that always has something worth doing going on.
It’s here, it is upon us! Paddlers of many ages and walks of life have been getting ready since April so, be there or …
… be very uncool. It’s the Third Annual Oriental Dragon Boat Festival and Race, in Oriental, the North Carolina coastal town where “Dragons” are a normal part of life.
Uh, but, you might be wondering, what’s a Dragon Boat? Dragon Boats are long narrow boats with ten pairs of paddlers, a steersperson at the stern and a drummer on a perch at the bow. It’s an increasingly popular international sport originating in China and if we trust Wikipedia on this one, one of the origins may have been to venerate the dragon deity for good fortune and good crops during the dog days of summer. Oriental’s local teams have been practicing regularly and perhaps we have their diligent paddling to thank for the not so doggy day forecast for Saturday — a comfy mid-80s.
There will be 19 Dragon boats competing in the 2012 race. North Carolina teams are coming in from Charlotte, Raleigh, Cary and New Bern featuring paddlers who compete internationally. Many of the local teams are spiked with muscular U.S. Marines and one team is exclusively Coast Guard and Navy, so there could be some serious speed and competition on the Neuse River on Saturday. And lest the Marine-enhanced local teams get too confident — beware the Miami Dragon Slayers, tough competitors coming all the way up from Florida. Several teams are paddling for causes — the Pirates for PAWS and the Gnarly Dragons teams are paddling for awareness and fund raising for the Pamlico Animal Welfare Society and another team is paddling for Heart Works, a non-profit community agency that serves children and families in Pamlico county.
Officially, the Festival begins Friday, August 10 for the participants who will be practicing on the river and fine-tuning their synchronized paddling, but the main viewing action is Saturday August 11, starting with the Paddlers Parade featuring some decked out teams hoping to win a parade prize which in prior years had categories including “most audacious”.
The parade begins Saturday morning at 8:15 AM. Position yourself in Lou Mac Park in downtown Oriental on the water front for best viewing. Races begin at 9 AM with each of the 19 teams racing three times with their cumulative times determining the winners.
Cheer on the paddlers from a viewing spot along South Avenue between Freemason and Mildred Streets. There will be food and beverage vendors. The Kids Park opens at 10 AM. For more information, here is the festival website: http://www.orientaldragonboat.com/odb/?q=node/196
See you there or, as I said, be uncool — and feel free to root for the marine-enhanced Pirates (of many ages) for PAWS… 😉
Full Disclosure — Captain Jane is the drummer on the Pirates for PAWS dragon boat. “I make zero money from being part of the team, I just spend money helping support the Pamlico Animal Welfare Society,” she says.
For a lively report on the Dragon Boat Race Results, weather drama and photos, go to http://towndock.net
The Miami Dragon Slayers â€” wow, broke one minute and came in first place in the open division! Their name is apt; they had serious game-face to go with their muscles and experience. The Raleigh team came in first place in its class (mixed boat, which means minimum 8 women) and fifth overall! And Pirates for PAWS came in second place in the mixed class, fifth place overall â€” and raised over $1,000 for PAWS.
Click Here To View the North Carolina Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Oriental Marina
Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Oriental, NC