- Ed Richter Staff Writer
More than 200 people on nine boat teams competed in Saturday’s second annual Hamilton Dragon Boat Festival & Asian Culture Celebration.
Organizers said the Hamilton Dragon Boat Festival and Asian Culture Celebration is about community, culture, teamwork, and families. The teams are comprised of businesses, church and civic groups, school groups, municipalities, as well as experienced recreational paddlers.
Kristina Latta, executive director of Great Miami Crew, said each of the nine teams had 22 paddlers, one steer, and one drummer racing in traditional Chinese dragon boats.
“It’s beautiful today,” Latta said. “We really lucked out.”
She said each team has three days to practice at least once leading up to the race. Professional coaches and steerers are available to give all the competitive advantage needed. Latta said on race day, each team raced three times until the boat with the fastest time was determined.
The Stars & Studs team won the competition as they had the fastest boat in water on the 250-meter course along the Great Miami River in downtown Hamilton. The boat team was made up of workers from Matandy Steel and Metal Products and JN Linrose Manufacturing. Both are local steel industry companies specializing in metal framing manufacturing and flat roll steel products distribution.
Racing is only a part of the overall event.
From 10 a.m to noon on Sunday, people can come to the Great Miami Rowing Center to get a chance to learn more about their rowing programs or to rent a kayak and go on the river.
A new event this year was the Municipal Cup Challenge among local governments sponsored by the Municipal Brewing Works. Latta said the winning boat receives a trophy as well as a beer created in their honor.
In the inaugural Municipal Cup race, the Spirit of 1791 boat crewed by city of Hamilton employees defeated the boat crewed by employees from West Chester Twp. and the cities of Mason and Oxford.
The event at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts also featured Asian Culture performances traditional Chinese dance, music, and martial arts from the Confucius Institute of Miami University. It also featured a Water Recreation Village with hands-on activities for families that highlight safety and fun on and along the Great Miami River and live entertainment.
The history of dragon boat racing finds its origins in China more than 2,500 years ago. Dragon boating has become a community event designed to raise awareness and support for key causes and charities and have been held around the nation and internationally.
“Next year we’re hoping to create an opportunity to bring the city together as we’ll be partnering with the High Street and Main Street associations next year,” Latta said.
She said next year’s festival has been scheduled for Aug. 18, 2018, and that interested people can get a discounted rate if they register by Oct. 18.