Centuries-old Chinese tradition to take over Red River

Let’s be honest, Shreveport-Bossier is probably not the first place that pops into your mind when you think of where one goes to enjoy a centuries-old Chinese tradition.

But it’s true. Ever since the Rotary Club of Shreveport started hosting the Red River Dragon Boat Festival as an annual fundraiser four years ago, it’s grown bigger each year, going from 16 participating teams the first year to 32 teams this year. And the teams aren’t just local, but come from as far as south Louisiana and Texas.

Yeah, it’s that big of a deal. In fact, according to the International Dragon Boat Federation, more than 50 million people from 40 countries participate in this sport.

So what makes it so popular? Well, see for yourself when they host the annual day-long event, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15 at Riverview Park in downtown Shreveport. Spectators can watch as each team attempts to paddle their way to victory on the Red River, round after round, until the team with the best time is declared the winner. Each team usually represents an area business or organization, which makes for a good day of friendly competition.

Even if you aren’t competing on one of the teams, (team registration has now closed,) the festival is a fun way to spend the day with friends or family on the river, cheer on your favorite team, dance to the music and enjoy food provided from various vendors.

“It’s like coming and having a picnic with a thousand of your friends on the river because you can come out, watch the races and watch the kids dance. It’s just a great way to get out on a September weekend and have free fun,” festival co-chair Charlotta Nordyke said.

That’s right – for spectators – the event is free. So if you’re still trying to figure out those Saturday plans, consider heading out to the Red River.

The image used in this blog post is used courtesy of Jim Huckaby.

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