From a scant 12 teams in 1989, Vancouver’s Dragon Boat Festival has grow to upwards of 150 teams and is the largest event of its kind outside of Hong Kong.
“It’s really a team sport,” said Anita Webster, spokeswoman for the festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. “There’s no most valuable player, there’s no superstars. You’re as good as your ability to keep time and be part of a team.”
The sport’s growing appeal — it is one of the fastest growing sports around — is because of its spirit of camaraderie and because it doesn’t necessarily require a ton of athletic ability, Webster said.
“The festival itself is just pure Vancouver. There’s entertainment. There’s music. There’s food from around the world. There are multicultural events.”
The festival begins tonight when Taoist priests will hold an eye-dotting ceremony to awaken the dragon. As well, a group from the Squamish Nation will paddle around the course in traditional red-cedar canoes, spreading feathers and blessing the water.
The racing begins tomorrow on False Creek at 8 a.m. Races are held every 12 minutes until 4 p.m. Admission is free.