Solomons was filled with excitement on Saturday, August 17 when the 4th annual Solomons Dragon Boat Festival kicked off the day with a parade of teams. This fun-filled, family friendly event provided a lot of action for spectators watching the races from the Solomons Riverwalk.
What is Dragon Boat Racing? Begun in China more than 2,500 years ago, it is a sport that relies on timing and teamwork. A dragon boat team consists of 16 paddlers, a drummer and steersperson. Success depends on how well the team works together. Because of this, dragon boat racing has become very popular as a team-building exercise for corporate, community and civic organizations.
Throughout the day, a variety of entertainment, food & craft vendors and children’s activities were available. The “Team Village” stretched the length of the north parking lot, with tents decorated by theme and team members wearing crazy costumes to match.
Racing began at 9 a.m. It is intense, heart-pounding action as you watch three colorful 40-foot Dragon Boats race. The boats carry 16 paddlers, a steersperson and a drummer pounding out the paddlers’ beat on Chinese drums. Teams competed for fastest time, best tent decorations, best team costumes, most funds raised and more!
Eighteen teams participated. The big winners were:
1st place – Drag ‘n’ Butt sponsored by AMEWAS
2nd place –The River Rats sponsored by O’Brien Realty
3rd place – Flying Water Dragons sponsored by Avian
Other teams included Asbury Solomons, Cedar Point FCU, Century 21, Chopticon High School, Great Mills High School, Leonardtown High School, KBR Wyle, Kingfishers, Leadership Southern Maryland, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Patuxent Presbyterian, Personalized Therapy, Smartronix, St. Aloysius, and Tidewater Dental.
Funds raised by the festival will support Southern Maryland Community Resources (SMCR), a non-profit agency that advocates and supports individuals with special needs. SMCR offers social, recreational and educational opportunities allowing individuals with developmental differences to contribute their unique gifts and develop their potential.
Before the event began Bonnie Elward, Executive Director of SMCR, thanked the teams, sponsors and volunteers for all the assistance they had given to make the event a success. She said SMCR “does not invest money in building, instead the money is invested in people. It is our goal to see past the disability and see what wonderful people they are. These funds will go far to assist us with our mission.”
Money is still coming in, and Ms. Elward thanked many organizations for their help and donations. Cedar Point Federal Credit Union, a sponsor for three years, has already signed up for next year! The Centurians, sponsored by Century 21, raised over $7,000 in addition to their team fee.
Businesses throughout Solomons also contributed. The Holiday Inn Solomons housed the crew for 22 Dragon crew during the week and hosted a VIP reception to start the week’s festivities. The Pier Restaurant created a Dragon Fly Crush, donating $1 for every drink purchased that day. Island Hideaway created a Dragon Fly Punch, donating a $1 for each drink sold for the next year!
Other sponsors included: United Way of Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties, The Arc of Southern Maryland, Toyota of Southern Maryland, Calvert Marina, Spalding Consulting, County Times, WaWa, Sabre, PNC Bank, Quality Built Homes, No Thyme to Cook, SoMD Kitchen Bath Floors, Continental Services Heating & Air, Chesapeake Custom Embroidery, Reliable Marine, Bunky’s Charter Boats, Solomons Boat Rental and Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc.
Race Day parking and free shuttles were sponsored by Toyota of Southern Maryland and PNC Bank.
Many thanks go out to the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners and the Calvert County Government, who provided support staff and closed two parking lots. They also received volunteer support through the Solomons Rescue Squad and Fire Department and the EMT’s Dive Team. Thanks also go out to Calvert Marine Museum, Dominion Energy/Solar Spot, Our Lady Star of the Sea, and SMECO. So many helped to make the day safe and successful!
Put next year’s race date on your calendar – August 15, 2020. Next year they will also celebrate SMCR, Inc.’s 7th Anniversary. Race events will occur throughout the week including practice days, the Dotting of the Eye, which wakes up the Dragons to race, and a “Flash Mob.”
Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon