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Dragons, Drummers and Dancers Converge on the Hudson River Saturday for Charity

Photo credit: Dutchess Dragon Boat Race and Festival/Facebook
Photo credit: Dutchess Dragon Boat Race and Festival/Facebook
This Saturday the sights and sounds of Asia will fill the waterways and land masses along the Hudson River as hundreds gather for the very first Dragon Boat Race and Festival in Dutchess County.

Sponsored by Dutchess County Tourism, the festival begins at 8:00 a.m. with Dragon Face Painting, a Chinese Tea Ceremony, calligraphy, origami, a Zongzi craft and Dragon Parade Ribbons. The opening ceremony begins at 9:00 a.m. 

And just what is a Dragon Boat? According to the Dutchess Dragon Boat Race and Festival website, the boats date back 2,300 years to Southern China. Qu Yuan, a poet and advisor to the Emperor, was banished from the Kingdom of Chu because of disagreements with his advice to the rulers. Upset at their decisions, Qu Yuan took a heavy rock, flung himself in the river, and drowned. Local fisherman rushed out in long boats and beat drums to scare the fish so they wouldn’t eat Qu Yuan’s body.

The Dragon Boat races honor this tradition by including a drummer in the 40-foot canoe-like boat who keeps a steady beat for paddlers. Each team of racers generally includes a drummer and 20 paddlers who row in time with the rhythm of the drums. This year's race has 16 paddlers and a drummer. Dragon Boats are adorned with a large dragon's head in the front and dragon scales on the hull.

The first Dragon Boat race sets sail at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 5th. Twenty  teams will compete on the 200-meter course, and just one will win the title of Dragon Boat Champion. The race and festival takes place at the Hudson River Rowing Association Community Boat House in Poughkeepsie, 270-272 N. Water St, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

During the races, the Asian Cultural Festival will take place along the waterfront. The festival will include games, food, drinks, drummers, dancers, performers and more. The fun continues through 4:00 p.m. For a complete schedule of performers and events, click here.

All proceeds after expenses will go to benefit two local non-profits: Arts Mid-Hudson and Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation.

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