Seventh annual West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race held over weekend
Published 9:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Twenty-seven teams maneuvered through the calm water of West Point Lake Saturday for top honors in the seventh annual West Point Lake Dragon Boat race. This year Jackson Services took home the gold.
LaGrange Fire Department finished in second place and First Baptist Church on the Square in third place.
Other awards included LaGrange Grocery for best tailgate, Duracell for best drummer, Hyundai MOBIS for best team spirit, Great Wolf Lodge for Dragon’s Choice and Lagrange Fire Department, Wet Willies for Best Team Name.
Though the bragging rights were a plus for winning teams, the purpose of participating in the lakeside event far outweighed the need for glory.
All proceeds went to Harmony House, a domestic violence shelter in LaGrange. The nonprofit was aiming to raise $40,000. Harmony House’s Executive Director Michele Bedingfield said the organization is on track to meeting the goal. She said once again that the event was a successful one that continues to be a local tradition.
“The Dragon Boat Race may not be the most financially successful fundraiser in LaGrange, but I feel it’s one of the most successful ones when it comes to raising awareness,” Bedingfield said.
“We had so many people out there that they actually had to close the park for a short period of time for the safety of the spectators and for parking purposes. It was a great, very well attended event, and I think it was so well attended because most people can relate to the purpose behind why they’re there — domestic abuse. They either know of someone, they have been in themselves, or they just want to know more about the work we’re doing and why we’re doing it, so they come out to support that.”
Bedingfield said the funds raised by the event go back into the organization and serve as leverage for grants they may apply for.
“The dollars itself goes to our general operating, but when we write a grant, we can use this event as leverage to say that our community support says at the West Point Lake Dragonboat race, we raised this much money, and we had over 3000 people out there attending this event,” Bedingfield said.
“Our community does support us over and above what we would have ever imagined. The general operating dollars are amazing, but the leverage it gives us for other funds is irreplaceable.”
New teams included Tellico Heat, a team out of Tennessee, who ultimately finished eighth in the races.
“We are a dragon boat racing club out of Knoxville and love racing. We’re mostly made up of seniors and when we when heard about this particular race and we thought it would be fun to come down,” Coach Dee Foster of the Tellico Heat said. “Our experience here has been wonderful. There’s a lot of nice people here, and the venue is beautiful.”
Angie Brian, owner of the Body Shop, said the dragon boat race is always an excellent time for her and her staff at the shop.
“We always have a lot of fun coming here. I think when everybody can get together in a fun environment to have fun and not do anything work related or serious. It allows us to get closer as a work family,” Brian said.
Bedingfield said if anyone’s interested in participating again next year, registration will open on March 1, and the race will be on July 13, 2024.To learn more about Harmony House, visit http://harmonyhousega.org/.