At the Festival
Wednesday August 14th – Evening
Please join us for the traditional Blessing of the Boats on Wednesday evening at Louise McKinney Park from 6:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Friday August 16th – Evening
Friday evening begins with the Novice Cup races where novice teams experience their first dragon boat race with the sound of ‘starter has the race’ followed by an air horn. This friendly competition starts the race component of the festival 7:30 pm and sets the weekend spirit while providing great entertainment to all observers. This is a great evening for family, friends, non-paddlers and paddlers of all ages and of all skill levels to unite and join in together to partake in the celebration of this ancient sport.
Saturday August 17th
Get the dragon spirit fired up!
Early Saturday morning the recreational semi-competitive races commence. The race schedule is randomly drawn with teams racing three lanes across the river for 500 meters. Each team is scheduled for two races, morning and afternoon. The combined race times are collected for every team entered, compiled to seed the teams in Sunday’s competitive divisional categories. The fastest teams will compete in medal rounds in their category, while other teams race for placement status.
At noon the festival’s cultural opening ceremonies take place featuring the Booming Tree Taiko Drums and the traditional Lion Dance. The Chinese Lion Dance dates back over 1,000 years and is an integral part of the Chinese culture. The lion itself is regarded as a guardian creature to force away evil spirits. Over the years it is known to promote good luck and prosperity. For this reason the Lion Dance may be performed at special occasions and celebrations.
Following the cultural performances the fun begins with non – competitive 250 m challenge races. Each year
This year, EDBFA is introducing the 2K Charity Race, with all proceeds going to Alberta’s Red Cross Flood Relief. The 2K race will occur on Saturday once the regular race schedule is finished; this is an entertaining and challenging race to wrap up the first day of races!
Throughout the weekend the festival site is occupied with entertainment, food truck vendors, festival merchandisers, promoters of dragon boat paddling equipment, clothing and accessories.
The festival event would not be complete without a beverage garden situated overlooking the river so you can enjoy your beverage and see the finish line at the same time. Here paddlers and friends meet to exchange their tales of the race they won by a ‘dragon nose hair ‘ of the race their team nearly won and also of the saddened defeats followed by “we’ll take it next time”.
Sunday August 18th
The competitive spirit ‘Rips up the River’
The combined race times from Saturday’s results determine Sunday’s schedule. The mood changes somewhat on Sunday to a more focused “lets’ do this” and the competitive spirit rises. Teams unite with their coaches, steerspersonal and physical trainers to focus on what skill it will take to win the gold medal. Quietly all paddlers seek the spirit of the Black Water Dragons’ strength for luck, skill, strength and safety during their semi final and final races.
The competitive races adjourn at noon on Sunday to observe and cheer the Pink Ribbon Challenge race sponsored by the Edmonton Breast Friends Dragon Boat Racing Team. Each year visiting teams and local breast cancer survivor teams gather in celebration of strength and determination of courageous survivors generating awareness and hope in a dragon boat. Following this intense race The Pink Ribbon Ceremony a walk of cancer survivors and the pink carnation toss into the waters of the North Saskatchewan River, a tribute and memory to those touched by cancer.
The final category races draw a crowd of spectators and comrades anxious to hear ‘starter has the race’ and cheer their favorite team while the drummer pushes the boat forward to the finish line. The final races conclude with a DJ/Karaoke party and the jubilant medal and trophy presentation ceremony.