The colorful dragon boats, with crews of 20 each, will compete this coming weekend at the 22nd annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival at Flushing Meadows Park.
The two-day event will be held on and around Meadow Lake. At least 170 teams and 2,500 participants from the United States and Canada are expected to take part for prize money and trips.
It will be held rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. All events are open free to the public.
On land, there will be music, crafts and other entertainment. Racing heats will begin at 9 a.m., but the opening day parade will be held at 11:30 a.m.
The city championship races will be held on Saturday and the national races on Sunday. Race distances are 250, 500 and 1,000 meters.
The teak boats used in the competition are custom made in Hong Kong and weigh a ton. They are painted with a dragon head at the front and a tail at the rear. Each crew has 18 paddlers, a drummer and a steerperson.
Saturday’s performers include the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York, the Bailen Brothers musical duo, Shaolin Masters performing martial arts and Dana Leong with IIISpokinn.
Sunday’s lineup features Mariachi Agulia y Plata Band, the New York Chinese Cultural Center’s Dance China NY, music by Brave New World, Shaolin Masters and Ballet Folklorico Nuevo Amanecer de Jesus Cortez.
An arts and crafts tent will have 15 artists demonstrating traditional Chinese crafts including calligraphy, rice doll making, ribbon flowers and kite making. There will also be a balloon man and face painter.
The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a respected Chinese leader who was disgraced in ancient times and committed suicide by drowning himself in a river. Nearby fishermen tried to save him but they failed. The races symbolize the rescue attempts
Festival organizers ask visitors to take public transportation to Flushing Meadows as there is no parking around the lake. Parking is available at Citi Field. A shuttle bus to the racing area will be available outside the subway station at Citi Field. Regular transit fees will be charged.