One of China’s most popular holiday activities is the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 Duānwǔ Jié). Traditionally held at the start of the fifth solar month every year, this festival is a fun-filled way for the family to welcome the beginning of summer.
The highlight of the Dragon Boat Festival is the dragon boat racing. Local teams race each other in the long flat boats decorated to look like dragons. A drummer beats loudly at the front of the boat to set the pace of synchronized paddling as boats race for first place. An all-day affair, families picnic alongside the shore to cheer on the boat teams. Often local vendors will be on hand with food stalls and related gift items, as well as face painting, games, and activities for the children.
The Dragon Boat heritage originated, it is said, in honor of Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Miluo River. As the villagers searched and searched for his body by beating the water with paddles and scaring the fish with drums — the legend goes — the Dragon Boat Festival grew out of a wish to not forget him.
Locally, in Southern California, Dragon Boat Festivals are not bound to the early June timeframe, which provides residents opportunities this year to watch and participate in these joyous activities.
It’s been a long-time Long Beach tradition to hold the event along the park and recreation’s public lagoon at 5839 Appian Way. Plan now to attend this year’s event to be held on July 28-29. Their website (http://www.lbdragonboat.com/) also contains a fuller story of Qu Yuan and the history of the Dragon people of China.
For those that think they have what it takes to enter a Dragon Boat race, they still have time to prepare a boat and practice. The 6 th Annual Los Angeles County Dragon Boat Festival will be held at the Santa Fe Dam in Irwindale on Saturday, October 6, 2018. For information on sponsorships and participation, please go to https://www.lacountydragonboatfestival.com/contact. For more information on the Dragon Boat Festival as they are celebrated in China, please see https://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/dragon-boat-festival.htm.