CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Up to 35 teams of 22 paddlers will compete in the Dragon Boat Races on the Cumberland River at this year’s Riverfest, held September 9th and 10th at McGregor Park. The races will be a focal point on the river throughout the day on Saturday, September 10 as teams paddle in multiple heats for the “Cumberland Cup.”
Cumberland River Compact, a local nonprofit, is responsible for the new event addition and has hosted an annual festival in Nashville dedicated to the races for the last 14 years. The group works to address the root causes of water pollution in the Cumberland River and its tributaries and hopes the races will help connect the Clarksville community to the valued water resource and encourage support for environmental stewardship of local waterways. The group plans to undertake a large restoration project on the Red River beginning in the fall of 2022.
“The river is a defining characteristic of cities like Clarksville and Nashville and the Dragon Boat races offer people the opportunity to get on the water and experience the river in a totally different way,” said Nicholle Gerde, Cumberland River Compact’s Development and Communications Director. “Our work at the Cumberland River Compact helps to educate people about the causes of water pollution and addresses pollution impacts through restoration and green infrastructure projects, but it all starts with people feeling an affinity for the river and its importance to our environmental, economic, and personal health.
Traditional Hong Kong-style dragon boats are 46 feet long, with 10 seats and 20 people. A drum seat in front of the first two paddlers holds a drummer. A steerer guides the boat with the steering oar in the back. These 22 people make up a Dragon Boat team. The stroke used is unique to this event and is taught in team practice.
With origins dating back 2,300 years, dragon boat racing is a fun, unique cultural event featuring adrenaline-pumping action. Teams rave about the excitement, friendly competition, and community spirit surrounding the sport.
Dragon Boat racing is popular among companies and businesses looking to strengthen relationships among staff and employees, and even customers. The event also draws teams from community groups, schools, churches, clubs, and more.
To kick off the first year of the races, the City of Clarksville will have a boat in the races for city employees in addition to a team from Fort Campbell and 5 Star Media Group. Teams are encouraged to sign up through the Cumberland River Compact before August 1st to secure a boat in the races.
The dragon boat races are open to all ages, skill levels, and physiques.
Registration fees for the event to enter a team and support Cumberland River Compact:
- $1,000 for a community or nonprofit team (around $50 per paddler)
- $1,500 for a corporate team (around $70 per paddler)
To learn more about the event and to register a boat in the races, visit: https://cumberlandrivercompact.org/event/dragon-boat-races-at-riverfest/