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SPRINGFIELD — The eighth annual Dragon Boat Festival, featuring dragon-boat races, food trucks, and Asian-themed entertainment, will return to Springfield on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Riverfront Park, 121 West St., Springfield. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

A special flower ceremony for breast-cancer survivors and their loved ones, a dragon-boat tradition, will be held around noon. Entertainment by lion dancers and taiko drummers will also be part of this year’s festival.

Thirteen teams from throughout New England are registered to participate in this year’s dragon-boat races, including the Springfield First Responders team, which will be defending its title from the 2019 Dragon Boat Festival.

The Springfield Dragon Boat Festival, which has been hosted by the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club since 2013, attracts hundreds of participants and spectators to the banks of the Connecticut River for a day of competition, festivities, and community support. The festival is an important fundraiser in support of breast-cancer survivors and community programming at the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club.

Hundreds of paddlers from New England participate in the festival races. A team is comprised of up to 24 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.

Admission to the festival is free for spectators, and free parking is available nearby at 77 West St. or along Avocado Street. The festival can also be reached by the Connecticut Riverwalk Bikeway. For more information, visit www.pvriverfront.org or call (413) 736-1322.

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