Thousands Attend Dragon Boat Race and Asian Festival in Hartford – NBC Connecticut

A long-standing tradition has returned to Hartford since the pandemic.

The capital was home to music, food and dance to celebrate Asian culture. One of the main attractions was the dragon boat race.

The 20-plus year tradition in the city is one of the top 10 dragon boat festivals in the United States

Teams from Connecticut and across the country came with their paddles, ready to compete in a traditional Asian sport that dates back centuries.

“Sports really represent Chinese culture. I will say that it’s very beneficial for teams and communities to come together to learn about our culture and keep our culture going,” said Shary Lou of Boston.

New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are just a few of the states represented in the race.

“It’s very different from kayaking or canoeing or something like that. It’s all about precision and timing,” said Bretty Houg, of Burlington, Vermont.

From Lake Champlain to the Connecticut River, this team from Vermont brought a committed group of 39 paddlers.

“Because we’re so close to the border, we went to Montreal, Canada, for a race in July. We had our own festival in August a few weeks ago. We’re here today, and we’re going New Jersey in September,” Houg said.

The festival also honored breast cancer survivors. One says she discovered the sport while recovering.

“I had breast surgery 11 years ago. As part of my rehabilitation, my team coach was a nurse who trained a dragon boat team,” said Alex Herzan of New York.

Throughout the day, 50 teams of 22-23 people each lined up the river and paddled in unison.

“I really like wading as one. On the boat, together, one shot, one person. That feeling,” Lou said.

About 1,000 attendees were on the water, and the city expected another thousand to come to the festival.

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