The Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival
is a yearly event that attracts 5500 paddlers and over 70,000 spectators in Ottawa
Historically, it is part of a Chinese
tradition dating back almost 2400 years. It began as a rite in the banks of southern China to guarantee abundant crops. In early times, the races were held on the 5th day of the lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The dragon
is symbolic of the object of worship during this time.
The day the races are held is also known as Poet's Day, which commemorates the death of Qu Yuan
, a minister and poet during the Zhou Dynasty
. The race is a part of a historical re-enactment to save Yuan from the river.
Since its inception in 1993, thousands of participants have gathered at Mooney's Bay Park
on Riverside Drive
to race. Admission to the races is free.
In 1998 the "Pledge Challenge
" was added as a charitable component. The Ottawa Dragon Boat Foundation
was founded in 2004 to help efforts with fundraising for local charities. To date the Challenge has raised over $2.1 million.
In 2006, the Dragon Boat Race Festival was partnered with the RA Photo Club
Taking place on June 19–21 in 2009, the event marked the 16th annual Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival. The festival includes the competition of dragon boat races, multicultural performances, a children's activity area, a variety of concessionaires and exhibitors representing cross-cultural communities, a silent auction and beer gardens
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