Annual Dragon Boat festival decends on Nanaimo harbour

Save-On-Foods Dragon Boat Festival starts this Friday

An eyeless beast slumbers, filled with fire and strength, waiting for a brush stroke that will awaken it and infuse its power into the assembled dragonboaters.

The beast, a dragon, will be roused by Taoist priests performing the Dotting of the Eye ceremony at the Save-On-Foods Dragon Boat Festival Friday (July 8). The ancient ritual is performed at similar festivals around the globe and signifies the emergence of the creature’s spirit and the transference of its strength to the paddlers.

The dragon’s strength is mirrored in the courage and perseverance of cancer survivors and their supporters that assemble each year to compete and make a difference in the lives of women fighting breast cancer.

The paddlers’ journey ends Sunday evening at the closing ceremonies, but before that last drum beat echoes across the waves, they gather for the annual Dairyland Carnation Ceremony to celebrate the lives of survivors, support women fighting the disease and honour those who have perished.

“That is something that moves me time and time again – to see the powerful emotions and the commitment these women have to fight the disease,” said Bob Buchanan, president of the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival. “Our entire festival is built around recognizing and supporting those afflicted by breast cancer and those who courageously fight the fight and those who have lost the fight.”

The festival continues to grow and has transformed into a public festival. It is now recognized as one of the largest festivals on the West Coast, said Buchanan.

This year’s theme is Caribbean Carnival.

“It will be bright, colourful and loud,” said Karen Addison, marketing and event coordinator for the festival.

Back this year is the centre stage entertainment, where people can listen to bands such as Braeden Marshal, Chasing Satellites and musicians from Headliners School of Performing Arts. There are activities for children, food vendors and a beer garden.

The festival is volunteer-run and the society donates all net proceeds to the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation for diagnostic equipment. Since the festival began in 2003, it has raised about $434,000 for the foundation and hopes to bring that total to $500,000 by the end of this year.

Organizers expect nearly 100 paddling teams, about 2,500 paddlers, from across North America to compete.

The ninth annual Save-On-Foods Dragon Boat Festival is July 8-10 at Maffeo Sutton Park. Opening ceremonies begin at 3 p.m. Friday at Swy-a-lana Lagoon.

For a full schedule of events and more information, please go to http://nanaimodragonboat.com.

Just Posted

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-staff as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read