LAKE LANIER, GEORGIA—MARCH 2018—Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP) will host the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Championships September 13-16. This is the first time the world tournament will be held in the United States. 1,500 athletes from over 25 countries–including the United States, Russia, Hungary, Poland, China, Japan, Ukraine and Italy–will gather to compete in traditional canoes, adorned with dragon’s heads and tails, while also celebrating the cultural heritage of this deeply symbolic Asian heritage event.
Origin of Dragon Boat Racing
Dragon Boat Races date back 2,000 years and have origins in an ancient Chinese legend. As the story goes, there was a well-loved patriot poet named Qu Yuan who lived during the 4th century B.C. Although loved by the people, corrupt court officials banished Yuam. Yuam, unable to cope with his sorrow, drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. Local fishermen raced out in their boats in attempt to save him, but arrived too late. In order to lure fish away from the body, they beat the water with their paddles and tossed rice dumplings into the river. The dragon boat races are a re-enactment of the attempt to save Qu Yuan and have become a major part of Chinese culture, representing patriotism and group integrity.
Ways to Celebrate
Make celebrating this unique cultural event a family affair! There are plenty of ways to get in the spirit of the ancient races and stir up excitement leading up to the championships at North Georgia’s Lake Lanier Olympic Park:
Make Rice Dumplings
Rice Dumplings are the traditional food of Dragon Boat Festivals. They are eaten at the races to symbolize the rice balls the villagers tossed into the Mi Lo River while searching for Qu Yuan. These delicious concoctions are rice stuffed with different sweet and savory fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves. Head to your nearest Chinese grocery store to load up on ingredients then follow this step-by-step recipe.
Dragon Boat Crafts:
Get out the paper and glue and make a dragon boat themed craft with the little ones. Try out this fire breathing dragon, a dragon puppet and paper dragon boat. These hands-on activities are sure to get the whole family in the Dragon Boat Festival spirit.
Dragon Boat Books:
Gather the family and dive into a good book before heading out to the water. Here’s a list of kid-friendly reads by Chinese American Family.
Although you can expect to see steep competition on the waterway at the Dragon Boat World Championships, the races are more than just sport. Immerse yourself in Chinese culture with ceremony and ritual at the venue. Before the canoes take off, indulge in both Chinese and other cuisines from around the world. Watch traditional Chinese dances and other cultural presentations throughout Lake Lanier Olympic Park.
About the Race
Once in the spirit, cheer on the colorful competition on the flat waterway. The standard size dragon boat holds 18-20 paddlers, plus a drummer and a steerer. At least two boats compete against each other over distances from 200 to 2000 meters and above. Strength, endurance and teamwork are the upmost importance for racers hoping to earn top nods.
Team USA will have multiple teams participating in the world tournament. Around 10,000 spectators are expected to attend the races at Lake Lanier Olympic Park and the estimated economic impact is predicted to be five million dollars to the Gainesville area.
Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are available. Contact Robyn Lynch at Robyn@LakeLanierOlympicVenue.org for more information.
Robyn Lynch, Robyn@LakeLanierOlympicVenue.org
Lake Lanier Olympic Park
About Lake Lanier Olympic Park| Known as Atlanta’s Hamptons, the Lake Lanier area is an upscale community on the rise, 45 minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta. With its location between the big city and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lanier also offers easy access to Appalachian culture and attractions. On the eastern shoreline of Lake Lanier in Hall County, there are 10 full service marinas with year-round access to multiple watersports. The crown jewel of Lake Lanier’s watersport venues is Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP), a world-class sporting and special events facility. Over the past 19 years, the LLOP has hosted prestigious international sporting, civic, social and corporate events, including the 1996 Olympic Games. Lake Lanier celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Olympic Legacy May 19-22, 2016, when the community played host to the Pan-American Championships for sprint canoe/kayak. The natural beauty surrounding Lake Lanier Olympic Park is unmatched by similar centers in the country and serves as a keystone in the community’s recreational offerings. Beyond experiencing the thrill of the Championships, spectators in the area can also enjoy the attractions, shopping and dining this world-class destination has to offer. As the most visited U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake in the world, Lake Lanier is a natural choice for beaches, boating and other water-based recreational pursuits. The surrounding area, with its Southern and Appalachian heritage, boasts a rich and diverse blend of museums, attractions and annual events that help round out the destination as a year-round choice for travelers. Enjoy zip lines and canopy tours, equestrian trails, hiking and biking while taking in the areas’ farm markets and main street shops. Lanier Islands Resort is the primary lodging destination with hotel, villa, lake house and camping accommodations. Here you’ll find a white sand beach, water park with slides and wave pool, a wide variety of dining and entertainment options, as well as many special events held year-round.
For more information: