With 4600 racers and thousands of exhibitors, spectators and cheerleaders in their own right, the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival was a happening place to be this afternoon.
Peruvian BBQ, fish and chips, and beverage vendors were alongside corporate and sponsor booths, games, swag tents and a concert stage. This free event around False Creek truly celebrates multiculturalism as well as our beautiful city.
I obviously cannot forget to mention the racers – these athletes come from all walks of life and man, can they ever paddle. With 170 teams and races starting every 12 minutes, the action is pretty mesmerizing.
There are teams with special needs members or those with mental illness, cancer survivors, organ donors, high school kids from the downtown eastside, corporate or social teams, and there’s even a team where half of the members are blind or visually impaired. Hearing those drums beating, provoking the paddlers and keeping them in time while they rush through the wake of neighbouring boats reminds you that the Dragon Boat festival not only celebrates ethnic diversity, but also triumph in sport.
Good news is that by the time you read this the festival will still be far from over. Tonight at 7:30 “doors” (and by door I mean gates) to The Trews concert will open and your best bet for this free show is to enter by Science World. Tomorrow the races continue, starting at 8:00am and going until 6:00pm – the action will be sped up as teams compete in the finals.
All photos in this post are Â© John Bollwitt for Miss604.com – view more in John’s Flickr stream. Thanks to the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival for not only having John and I out there as official media, but also for linking to my blog on the special links page of their website.