The Story Behind Denver’s Annual Dragon Boat Festival

Rejoice Asian and Asian-American society this weekend at the once-a-year Colorado Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan’s Lake Park. The festival’s main function consists of boat races between rowing groups who glide across the lake in dragon-shaped boats, celebrating an historical Chinese activity.

Considering the fact that its debut in 2001, the CDBF has taken location at Sloan’s Lake. The activity has grown mainly above the yrs, heading from sixteen teams during the initial 12 months to up to fifty competing in two divisions. About 16,000 people attended the to start with 12 months, and that quantity has developed to upwards of 125,000 folks. It is hosted by Colorado Dragon Boat, a nonprofit focused to showcasing the growing and assorted Asian local community to the community.

click on to enlarge

Attendees from a past Colorado Dragon Boat Festival.

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

“I came out below to Colorado, and noticed when I moved listed here that the variety amount is a little little bit unique than what I was utilized to,” states Sara Moore, executive director of the competition. “I couldn’t definitely see any individuals of color in Colorado, and what I observed was the Colorado Dragon Boat Competition. I started in December of 2017 and have been the govt director ever considering that. I am just truly enthusiastic to be equipped to support place up these occasions, specifically the Dragon Boat Competition that truly encourages AAPI tradition listed here in Colorado.”

CDBF will have more than twenty food stuff suppliers in two Taste of Asia foodstuff courts, an Asian marketplace, an interactive children’s space, additional than 100 performances that showcase regular Asian and Asian-American lifestyle, and, of class, the boat race by itself. Teams wishing to partake in the race need to sign up on the internet by its web-site. CDBF presents the boats for the levels of competition.

“We are a grassroots organization that started out the festival. We required to supply the AAPI local community with an chance for everyone to appear jointly in celebration, and to seriously rejoice achievements and contributions coming out of the Asian communities below in Colorado, which back in 2001 and nevertheless right now are frequently unseen and unheard. This was a way to elevate up our voices and to seriously allow Colorado know that we are listed here. We are modest but mighty,” Moore clarifies.

Dragon boat racing dates back 2,000 decades to ancient China. Legend has it that Chu Yuan, a poet and a loyal aide to the emperor, was disliked by the court docket, and when the emperor handed away, Chu Yuan was banished. In an effort and hard work to be discovered by the new emperor, he threw himself into the Mi Lo River. His followers went immediately after him, banging drums and beating their paddles to hold the fish absent from his body. Ever because then, athletes gather all over the world to commemorate his sacrifice for honor and justice.

click to enlarge The Story Behind Denver's Annual Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival crew throughout a race.

Colorado Dragon Boat Competition

“Back in 2001, it blew anticipations out of the h2o,” recalls Moore. We knew it was heading to be a incredibly considerable and important event that is really significantly wanted in Colorado. … In this article in the U.S., it is very specialized niche. But in Asia, it is extremely well-known and large. We ended up imagining of a way to bring men and women with each other, especially in the AAPI local community and the standard community, as a result of food items and welcoming athletic level of competition.

“There are two distinctive styles of boats we have,” she adds. “We have one known as a flag catcher, with a giant dragon head and a dragon tail on it, exactly where someone lays on best of the dragon head and catches the flag at the stop of the race. We also have smaller, far more modern boats…and those are more quickly and glide proper by means of the water.”

The nonprofit not only hosts the CDBF, but also does an once-a-year Colorado Dragon Boat Movie Competition, which transpired in March this 12 months. The film fest aims to emphasize and “promote the tradition, contributions, and achievements of Asian and Asian Pacific American communities by way of film,” in accordance to its web page.

“The film festival begun back again in 2016, so it is just one of our more recent programs. But we are the only all-Asian and Asian-American movie pageant in Colorado, and we are at this time partnering with Denver Film to enable place up this party,” notes Moore. “It is a 4-working day party exactly where we have all Asian and Asian-American movies that we showcase from all over the entire world representing Asians, whether that be with administrators, actors, producers or everyone in the movie sector. Not only do we demonstrate the films, but we pair them with diverse items. We had culinary activities with one particular of our documentaries on food items.

“We are definitely coming collectively as a local community — each AAPI and the general general public — to share the tradition and storytelling,” she suggests.

Moore takes fantastic pride in her perform with the group and emphasizes the enthusiasm she has for its objectives. “Our mission is to build bridges of awareness, information and comprehending amongst the varied Asian American Pacific Islander communities and the basic public by way of cultural schooling, leadership advancement and athletic opposition. For me, specifically, the AAPI local community signifies very a bit to me and my family members. [My grandparents] have been this kind of a large inspiration in my everyday living, to seriously just present that when we arrive with each other and study about diverse cultures and various people’s tales, we seriously are just 1 group. There can be love there,” she concludes.

Dragon Boat Competition, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 23, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, July 24, Sloan’s Lake Park, 1700 Sheridan Boulevard. Boat race starts at 8 a.m. both of those times discover out extra here.