OSWEGO – The 7th Annual Oswego Dragon Boat Festival will take place Friday, Aug. 9 and Saturday, Aug. 10 in Oswego’s Breitbeck Park. Spectators will be able to watch authentic 40 foot Hong-Kong style dragon boats as they race in the Oswego Harbor channel behind the park.
The Oswego Dragon Boat Festival will kick-off at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9 with live music provided by the PK Experience, a chicken barbecue and the Heroes Challenge – a race between the New York State Police and the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department. Tickets for the barbecue can be purchased at the YMCA. Racing continues throughout the day at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10 and will include a day of games, music and food in the park. This is a free family friendly event for spectators which highlight Oswego’s Breitbeck park and Lake Ontario waterfront.
The unique and colorful festival will feature community, club and corporate teams’ boats of 16 to 20 paddlers, one drummer and one steerer. The drumbeat helps to lead the paddlers throughout each race and determines the pace of the paddlers. Drummers may also use hand signals or voice calls to help each team perform at their best. Paddlers face forward and use a paddle that is not attached to the boat. The lead paddlers set the pace for the team to follow and the steersman controls the dragon boat with a sweep oar rigged at the rear of the boat. Boats race approximately 200 meters each heat. The overall winner is determined by the best time. The dragon boats and steersmen are all part of 22 Dragons, a Dragon boat club based in Montreal, Quebec, which produces events for charities or communities in Eastern North America. They have worked with the Oswego YMCA to continue to bring this event to the community for seven years.
Trish Levine, event coordinator, and Health and Wellness Director at the Oswego YMCA said the event provides opportunities for individuals in the community to interact with other businesses and groups in addition to building teamwork skills for members within an organization.
“It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, or how strong you are. You have to work together as a team or you’re not going to move as fast as the boat next to you,” Levine said.
This free spectator friendly event is an excellent opportunity for friends and families to spend time in the improved Breitbeck Park. Levine added that for those interested in participating in the event, there is an opportunity to register a team boat or join in as an individual paddler. There is a registration fee and paddlers must be at least 15 years old to participate. Interested individuals can call the Y for more information.
The Dragon Boat Festival is the Oswego YMCA’s largest fundraising event supporting the programs that serve children, individuals, families and seniors in the Oswego community. Last year, the Oswego YMCA provided over $67,000 in direct financial assistance to over 1,300 children, adults and families in Oswego so they could participate in YMCA activities.
The Y has been in downtown Oswego and strengthening community for over 160 years. The Y works side-by-side with the community to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background can learn, grow and thrive.
For more information and boat registration call the YMCA at 315-342-6082 or visit www.oswegoymca.org.