SPRINGFIELD — A new date for the ninth annual Dragon Boat Festival has been set for Saturday, Oct. 14 on the Connecticut River. The event will feature dragon-boat races, food trucks, and Asian-themed entertainment from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Riverfront Park, 121 West St., Springfield.
The festival was originally scheduled for July 29 but postponed due to unsafe water conditions resulting from recent flooding. Admission to the festival is free for spectators.
Twenty-four teams from throughout New England are registered to participate in this year’s dragon-boat races. Community teams include Behavioral Health Network, CRRC-MA, as well as the defending champions, Springfield Pharmacy First Responders. With the new date set, registration will be reopened at www.pvriverfront.org for additional teams to sign up to race on Oct. 14.
The Springfield Dragon Boat Festival, which has been hosted by the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club (PVRC) since 2013, attracts hundreds of participants and spectators to the banks of the Connecticut River for a day of competition, festivity, and community support. The festival is an important fundraiser in support of breast-cancer survivors and community programming at the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club.
According to Ben Quick, executive director of PVRC, “we are happy to have found an alternative date for the Dragon Boat Festival, which has become a staple of our offerings on the riverfront. With the additional time, we are opening registration for teams, and a fall dragon-boat experience on the Connecticut with colleagues and friends can be spectacular. We look forward to welcoming dragon boaters and fans of this fun and exciting event.”
Hundreds of paddlers from New England participate in the festival races. A team is comprised of up to 20 paddlers who race against other teams in 200-meter races on the Connecticut River. Each race lasts about one minute, and each team races at least three times on the day of the festival. Dragon boating originated in China 2,000 years ago and today is one of the world’s fastest-growing team water sports.
The festival makes it easy for anyone to participate and spectate. Free parking is available nearby at 77 West St. or along Avocado Street and on property abutting and behind the new Starbucks store adjacent to the Riverfront Club. The festival can also be reached by the Connecticut Riverwalk Bikeway. More information can be found at www.pvriverfront.org or by calling (413) 736-1322.