‘Dragon Boats’ headed for West Point Lake
LaGRANGE — A first of its kind boat race will cruise into West Point Lake on Saturday at Pyne Road Park.
The Dragon Boat Races, sponsored by Mike Patton Auto Group, is a fundraiser for Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter and features 20 teams that will paddle 46-foot-long, Hong Kong style boats in quarter mile races, said Michele Bedingfield, Harmony House’s executive director. The teams consist of 20 people and a drummer who keeps rhythm for the paddlers.
“One of my goals is to bring awareness to domestic violence, to let people know that the shelter is here, and to do a community event,” she said. “We want to bring together teamwork, cooperation, and overall it’s a fundraiser, because we need that to leverage for future grants.”
An opening ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. at Pyne Road Park, 4481 Roanoke Road, and the races will begin at 9 a.m. The event is open to the public, and people are invited to tailgate and watch the races from shore, Bedingfield said.
“The neat thing is, along with it being a race, we have four other areas that people can compete in. The spectators will get to vote for the best drummer, best tent decoration, team name and then overall best team spirit. It’s a fundraiser, so if people want to come out and vote, it’s $1 per vote.”
The boats are being provided by a Tennessee-based company, and practice sessions will be held later this week for each of the teams. Four boats will be at the lake during the race, with two boats racing at a time, and the two other boats being loaded with paddlers for the next round.
There will also be activities for children during the race, and barbecue and refreshments will be available for purchase.
All of the funds raised during the races will stay local and benefit the Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter. Anyone who would like to have a team in the race, be a sponsor at any level, volunteer to help on the day of the event or would like more information, may email Kelli Ferrell at email@example.com or Michele Bedingfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dragon boat racing is the eighth fastest growing sport in the world and grows in popularity each year, with more than 50 million people in 63 countries participating, according to the event’s organizers.