LAKE LANIER, GEORIGA—AUGUST 2018—Georgia’s Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP) is hosting the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Championships September 13-16, with the opening ceremonies taking place September 12 at 5 p.m. The fiery evening will be fit for the United States’ inaugural hosting of the international tournament. 1,500 athletes from over 25 countries–including the US, France, Germany, China, Japan, and Italy–will gather to compete in traditional canoes, adorned with dragon’s heads and tails over the four days of competition.
The headliner for the Opening Ceremony is none other than the multiple award- winning, multitalented singer/actor/pianist, Craig A. Meyer. Meyer is perhaps best known for his star role in–“Remember When Rock Was Young: The Elton John Tribute.” Craig captures the music, costumes and charisma of Sir Elton John.
“Craig is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with. He can do ANYTHING!” says Barry Manilow.
Today, Meyer, whose strong vocals and piano skills dazzle audiences both here and abroad, is considered to be the best Elton John tribute artist in the world. This spectacular theatrical experience is a musical journey celebrating the decades of chart-topping hits of Sir Elton John.
Other happenings throughout the evening will include ceremonial elements such as the Parade of Athletes, Pan-Asian dances and a variety of cultural entertainment. Food trucks will serve Chinese dishes and other cultural cuisines. Beer and wine will be flowing and available for purchase.
The next day, it’s off to the races as the dragon boats hit Lake Lanier Olympic Park’s prized flat waterway. There are two standard sized boats—one holds twenty paddlers, a steersman and a drummer, the other holds ten paddlers, a steersman and a drummer. With its’ over 2,000-year-old roots in Chinese lore, Dragon Boat racing is now a global phenomenon, with an estimated 72.5 million people paddling these crafts around the world, with a 22% increase in participation each year.
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 to the Gainesville area is predicted to be five million dollars.
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.
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 water sports. The crown jewel of Lake Lanier’s water sport venues is Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP), a world-class sporting and special events facility. Over the past 22 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. This event was the last Continental Olympic Qualifier before The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, bringing together athletes from North, South and Central America for four days of competition.
In September of 2018, Lake Lanier Olympic Park will host the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships. Athletes from over 25 countries 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. This competition will be the largest world gathering of athletes in the area since the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996. Lake Lanier Olympic Park boasts one of the best competition venues for flatwater sports world-wide. Hosting world-class competitions, as well as local and national athletes and teams, this venue and its ideal racing course—with a naturally-flowing straightaway of over 3,000 meters—is a highly desirable location for high-performance training. The facility also provides recreational opportunities for the region and is a destination point for sports enthusiasts, including paddle boarding, fishing, swimming and other water sports. The boathouse and arena are also available to rent for weddings, festivals, team-building activities, corporate meetings and events.
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.