Paddles Up! For Solomons Dragon Boat Festival

Southern Baptist’s Fishers of Men team prepare for the Solomons Dragon Boat race. Photo: Michaila Shahan.

By Michaila Shahan

Returning for its sixth year, the Solomons Island Dragon Boat festival will be attracting another crowd along the shore of the riverwalk for a jam-packed day of excitement, racing, and vendors. Nineteen boats, each with a drummer, steer member, and a crew of 16 paddlers, will gather on the Patuxent River to race three at a time for the title of winner. Team members are currently training with professional 22Dragons instructors from Montreal, Canada, in anticipation for the big day of Aug. 13.

The races will begin Saturday at approximately 9 am and ending around 3 pm with each round lasting about two minutes (starting from the pier off of Cone Island and ending at the pavilion). Food trucks, including BBQ and ice cream, will open along the riverwalk at 10 am, and a lunch break will be held at noon. The awards presentation will begin when the last boaters face the finish line. Afterwards, the next winner to carve their name into the first-place crystal trophy will be announced.

Spectators are welcome to watch practice sessions from 5 to 7 pm each day and join the dotting of the eye ceremony on Friday Aug. 12 at 6 pm, which promises a secretive flash dance rehearsal in preparation for the big day.

During the first practice session Monday, CBM Bay Weekly met up with Kristin Kauffman Beaver, co-chair of the event and a captain of Cedar Point’s team this year.

“It’s fun to see the organizations—the whole town—pull together” Beaver said, noting that this year two club teams from Annapolis as well as DC’s Out of Sight Team, a crew of visually impaired individuals arriving fresh from a Club Crew World Championship in Florida, have joined the lineup.

Visitors can help their favorite team out this season by sponsoring them at somdcr.org, where each team has a public fundraising goal.

Donations support Southern Maryland Community Resources (SMCR), the host of the event, and its goal of “bringing the community and special needs community together,” according to board chair Andy Geisz. SMCR has been successfully providing this connection through cooking classes, counseling, and its popular Joy Prom, an event for those with special needs and their friends.

Geisz, standing under a check-in tent in the mid-eighty to ninety-degree weather, smiles as he tells us “50 to 60 percent of (SMCR’s) budget comes from this event.”

The Ruddy Duck, The Pier, and Vera’s Beach club are all serving “dragon drinks” created for the evening. The Island Hideaway will be offering a Dragonfruit Lemonade and Lotus Kitchen a Sleepy Dragon cucumber vodka martini in honor of the event, with a dollar from each cocktail donated.

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