Dragon boat racing made its first splash in Evansville, Indiana, in the summer of 2006.
The 1st Annual Dragons on the Ohio saw four teams go onto the river, backed by outstanding corporate sponsors, and come away with a new tradition.
The enthusiasm of those first teams soon spread, and in 2007, eight teams were ready to race in the 2nd Annual Dragons on the Ohio. The event, which had begun as part of a multicultural festival of downtown Evansville, was taking on a distinctive life of its own. Teams from outside the area began participating in the event. Corporate sponsors were generous with their support. The momentum was unmistakable.
The 3rd Annual Dragons on the Ohio was held on June 7, 2008. Due to the rapid rise of the Ohio River, the event was held at the Eagle Crest Lake on Evansville's east side. This site proved to be an ideal location for the 14 teams and spectators. Participants and spectators had the opportunity to join in the Breast Cancer Survivor Ceremony, which is a popular tradition throughout the United States. This very moving ceremony conducted on the water is an opportunity to remember those who have lost the battle with cancer and to show support for those still fighting the disease.
The 4th Annual Dragons on the Ohio was a huge success with 18 teams competing! One of our traveling teams, the Iowa Dragons, went home with the Champions Trophy. The competition was fierce with the Blazing Paddles coming in a very close second. The Indy SurviveOars left with the Spirit of the Dragon Trophy for a 2nd year.
5th Annual Dragons on the Ohio - June 5, 2010. Once again scheduled for Eagle Crest Lake, this year will feature 20 teams. Funk in the City will have a VERY exciting announcement to go along with this year's Festival. Stay tuned!
History of Dragon Boat Racing
The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu jíe), is an annual festival celebrated in China which has begun to enjoy international popularity.
The festival has its roots in ancient Chinese history. Qu Yuan, China’s first great poet, lived at a time when various parts of China were at war with each other. Qu Yuan tried to provide advice to help his government. But, as legend has it, the king did not appreciate his advice, and with evil men twisting his words and making his situation worse, Qu Yuan was exiled from his homeland. When his homeland fell into enemy hands, his despair grew so deep that he threw himself into the Miluo River (in today’s Hunan province of China).
This is the point at which the dragon boats enter the story. According to the ancient legend, the villagers, who loved Qu Yuan, ran to their dragon boats and raced to save him. But, unfortunately, they were too late.
Annual dragon boat races in China came to commemorate this valiant rescue attempt. The races were part of the Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated annually on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the year.
This rich part of Chinese culture has been shared globally, and today dragon boat races are held in many cities around the world, including Evansville, Indiana.