Habitat Dragon Boat Festival returns to Coosa River in August

Registration is officially open for the ninth Habitat Dragon Boat Festival, sponsored by Gadsden-Etowah Habitat for Humanity.

The event returns to the Coosa River on August 20 at Riverwalk Park, behind Chili’s. The opening ceremony will take place at 8:45 a.m., with races starting at 9 a.m.

“The goal of the Habitat Dragon Boat Festival is to raise funds to further the mission of building simple, decent and affordable homes in our community,” said Steve Scharfenberg, Co-Chair of Gadsden-Etowah Habitat for Humanity. “We want to raise awareness of the Department of Habitat, inform families of eligibility requirements, and attract more volunteers while having a good time on the water.”

The Pan Am Dragon Boat Association LLC of Tampa, Florida will be participating in the event. It will provide staff, boats and equipment for the festival, as well as one hour of practice with a trainer during the week leading up to the event.

Several prizes will be awarded during the festival for topics such as Best Team Tent, Best Team Spirit, Best Team T-Shirt, and Best Drummer Costume.

“The drummer leads the paddlers through the stroke using the rhythmic beat of the drum to indicate the timing and timing of all paddlers’ strokes,” Habitat for Humanity explained in a press release. “The drummer is an important part of the dragon boat team. Not only are the drummers the most decorative part of the team, but the drummer is considered the ‘heartbeat’ of the dragon boat.”

Participants at the latest Habitat Dragon Boat Festival.

Dragon boat racing has origins dating back 2,300 years and is considered the eighth fastest growing sport in the world. Teams of 20 paddlers, the drummer and coxswain will race in 46-foot-long Chinese dragon boats adorned with colorful dragon heads and tails. Teams will cruise their boats at speeds of 10 to 15 miles per hour as they compete for the top prize.

“People love it – the thrill, the teamwork, the adrenaline, the interaction in the boat – everything,” said Suzanne Scharfenberg, another co-chair, “People who never thought of themselves as athletes can thrive in a dragon boat.”

Admission to the event is free to the public and attendees can choose to participate in other activities such as face painting, the drummer’s parade and, once the races are over, mini dragon boat rides .

Guests are also encouraged to pick up lunch and a snow cone from the vendors who will be attending the event.

For more information about the event and how to volunteer, visit www.habitatdragonboat.com, email [email protected] or call 256-543-1898.

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