Tacoma’s Rainier Dragon Boat Festival

The festival brings culture and competition to Tacoma

Spend a little time outside and enjoy some local and global culture this weekend at the Rainier Dragon Boat Festival. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 19 at Thea Park, watch dragon boat racers compete along Foss Waterway.

The opening ceremony begins at 8 a.m. and will feature the culturally significant opening ceremony: “The Blessing and Dotting of the Eyes,” during which the eyes of the dragon heads are dotted by event sponsors from MultiCare Health Systems, CHI Franciscan, and Tacoma Environmental Services. After the eyes are dotted, the heads and tails are affixed to the boat. The races begin at 9 a.m.

The festival will feature a variety of food, beverage, and retail vendors including HamHock Jones Soul Shack food truck, Brew Dogs, KK Sews, Wahine Sport, and many more.

“The great thing about Rainier Dragon Boat Festival is that it includes competitive teams from around the Pacific Northwest, but it also includes local teams who have never really paddled before,” said Liz Satterthwaite, a representative for the Rainier Dragon Boat Festival. “The Tacoma Dragon Boat Association works with beginning community paddlers and provides three free coached training sessions for them.”

The 16 community teams consist of 10 teams from MultiCare Health System, two teams from CHI Franciscan Health, and one team each from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Tacoma Public Schools, Metro Parks Tacoma, and Boeing. Boeing is the team to beat — as they are 2017’s defending champion.

For those who attend the event and find they want to get involved in the sport, there’s good news. The Tacoma Dragon Boat Association provides any interested racers with three free practices along Tacoma’s historic Foss Waterway.

So, whether you want to watch or get wet, head down to Thea Park on Saturday and find out what the ancient Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing is all about.

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