The 2006 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is on August 12-13.
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
August 12 and 13, 9am-6pm
Over 100 teams of Dragon Boat racers try not to be a rotten egg.
Flushing Meadows Park
THE HONG KONG DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL IN NEW YORK
SAT, AUG 13 - SUN, AUG 14, 2005 | 9AM - 5PM
FLUSHING MEADOWS PARK | FREE ADMISSION | RAIN OR SHINE
DRAGON BOAT HISTORY
The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival - A significant holiday celebrated in China and the one with the longest history. Colorful and lively, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by a day of races in narrow boats shaped like dragons. Competing teams row their boats in sync with a furious rhythm pounded out by on-board drummers.
Qu Yuan - This regatta commemorates the death of Qu Yuan who is said to have committed suicide by drowning himself in a river. Qu Yuan was a minister in the kingdom of Chu situated in present-day Hunan and Hubei provinces during the Warring States period (475 - 221 BC). He was upright, loyal and highly esteemed for his wise counsel that had brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom. However, when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified Qu Yuan, he was disgraced and dismissed from office. Realizing that the country was now in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu Yuan clasped a large stone and leaped into the Mi Lo river on the fifth day of the fifth moon. Nearby fishermen rushed to save him, but they failed and his body was never recovered. Thereafter, the kingdom declined and was eventually conquered.
Legend - According to One Legend, the people of Chu, mourning the death of Qu Yuan, threw rice into the river to feed his hungry ghost every year on the fifth day of the fifth moon. The practice continues to this day throughout China. The dragon-boat races symbolize the frantic attempts to rescue Qu Yuan.
Dragon Boat Specification - In the past, a dragon-boat ranges from fifty to one hundred feet long, accommodating many paddlers sitting side by side. A wooden dragon head is attached to the bow, a dragon tail at the stern. The hull is typically decorated with a design of red, green and blue scales edged in gold. Men standing at the bow set off firecrackers, toss rice into the water and make believe they are looking for Qu Yuan. All the noise and pageantry creates an atmosphere of gaiety and excitement. Historically, competitions were held between different clans, villages and organizations, and winners were awarded medals, banners, jugs of wine and festive meals. Our dragon boats are forty feet long, over 2000 lb. in weight. They are made out of teak wood and approved by the IDBF for international dragon boat racing.
Celebration - On the Fifth Moon Festival, a glutinous rice pudding called Zongzi is eaten to symbolize the rice offerings to Qu Yuan. Ingredients such as beans, lotus seeds, chestnuts, pork fat and the golden yolk of a salted duck egg were often added to the glutinous rice. The pudding is wrapped with bamboo leaves, bounded with a sort of raffia and boiled in salt water for hours.
15 August 1994, New York Times, "In Boat Races, Dragons Roar and Tradition Lives," pg. B3:
Poised at the prow of a Chinese dragon boat, Jack Ribeiro beat the drum yesterday to set the pace for his team. Synchronized by the thundering drumbeats, the 20-member crew paddled furiously in swift, short strokes.
The team members' low grunts were buried by the splashing of foamy white waves on the lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Three slim teakwood boats -- decorated with dragon heads at the prow and dragon tails at the stern and painted in the traditional colors of gold, green, blue and red -- roared toward the finish line in the Greater New York Championship Race of the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.
Thirty teams competed in the weekend races, an American version of a 2,000 year-old Chinese tradition that takes place in southern China during the Summer Festival, the season's most important holiday. The four winning teams will compete in the national finals in the Hudson River near Battery Park City on Sunday, with the winner to represent the United States in the 1995 international dragon boat races in Hong Kong.
Dragon-boat racing is gaining momentum as a sport in the United States, said Henry Wan, chairman of the race. Four years ago, in the first year of the New York competition, there were only 10 teams, he said, adding that there were now more than 50 teams competing on the West Coast and in Iowa, Virginia, Boston and Philadelphia.
9 August 1998, Newsday, "Heats On For Dragon Boat Race" by Sophia Allwood, pg. A32:
Forty-six teams from the metro area came to compete in the two-day competition for a shot at the main prize, which is a chance to compete in the International Dragon Boat Race in Hong Kong in June, 1999.
Each team consists of paddlers, a drummer and one person on the tiller.
The teams first compete in a 250-meter race; winners of separate heats go on to compete in a 500-meter race.
The winners of yesterday's races will advance to today's competition and vie against teams from all over the United States. Today's competition will determine which team will represent the United States in the 1999 world championship event.
13 August 2005, New York Daily News, "Come to Queens for the King of Dragon Boat Races" by Jacob E. Osterhout, pg. 29:
Ever seen a dragon boat? Check out these colorful, custom-made vessels at the 15th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Queens. Dating to the third century B.C., dragon boat racing commemorates the Chinese reformer Qu Yuan. The 1-ton fiberglass craft are constructed in Hong Kong with a dragon head
up front and a tail at the rear. They are manned by up to 20 paddlers, plus a drummer, and compete in races for over $60,000 in cash and prizes. Some 1,500 participants take part in the event, which makes this the largest festival of its kind in the United States. The celebration also features a Dumpling Eating Challenge as well as martial arts demonstrations and traditional dragon dance and musical performances.