West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race returns next weekend

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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On Saturday, July 15, Harmony House’s seventh annual Dragon Boat Race is set to return. The race will take place at West Point Lake from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone who wants to watch the race can attend the event for free and enjoy activities at the tailgating areas. 

“We are extremely excited about the race this year. The last couple of years coming out of COVID, we were a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but we were not disappointed in what we were able to raise,” Harmony House’s executive director Michele Bedingfield said. “This year we have 27 teams competing, and it’s looking like we are headed toward a great day.” 

All proceeds from the race will go to the Harmony House domestic violence shelter. The event typically brings in approximately $35,000-$40,000 to benefit the organization.

Bedingfield said last year the event raised $35,000 and for this year she hopes to bring in $40,000.

According to the WPL Dragon Boat Race website, dragon boat racing is the eighth fastest-growing sport in the world with more than 50 million people in 63 countries participating each year. Teams of up to 20 paddlers and a drummer race in authentic Hong Kong-style, 46-foot-long dragon boats. Coaches and professional steerers are provided to help each team during the race.

To win the competition, teams have to strategize and work together as one. The team members in the front of the boat work in sync to lead the back half of the boat. Members in the middle of the boat combine their strength with the speed of the paddlers in the back, to help the dragon boat glide through the water.

Teams from the LaGrange Police Department, KIA, Duracell and Junior Service League are among those competing in the race, Bedingfield said. 

“This brings our community together and it’s one of the events where everyone from your hard-working people that work on the assembly lines to our elected officials, business owners, and stay-at-home moms, all come out to this one event,” Bedingfield said. “That’s one of my favorite things about the race is that everyone can relate to why we’re doing it.” 

This year’s presenting sponsor is the Mike Patton Auto Family. Along with long-time sponsor Mike Patton, other sponsors include Duracell, Community Bank & Trust, The Medicine Cabinet and LaGrange Grocery.    For more information on Harmony House, call (706) 885-1525 or visit http://www.harmonyhousega.org/.