The Dragon Boat Races originated in China as a commemoration of the life and death of the Chinese scholar and poet Qu Yuan, and are now popular across many Asian cultures. Some of the traditions practiced during Dragon Boat Festivals around the world are eating zongzi (sticky rice treats wrapped in bamboo leaves) and racing dragon boats.
The ritual of “Awakening the Dragon” marks the start of the daylong festival and blesses the competition with a combination of drumming and painting the dragon’s eyes. As the Dragon Boat Races commence on the river, the Asian festival has continuous performances and demonstrations on shore, which are free and open to the public.
Master Kwan brings the Lion Dance to the Dutchess Dragon Boat Festival for the second year, featuring performers that leap off the stage and dance through the audience in a visually stunning performance. Also returning to the Dragon Boat Festival stage are dances from the young performers of the Waist Drum Dance Team from Mid-Hudson HuaXia Chinese School, a school committed to teaching children the rich traditions of the Chinese culture.
Using the power of mask and puppet theater, Arm-of-the-Sea Theater will present a live performance at 11 a.m. of “Hook, Line, and Sinker: Fishing the Hudson River.” The show features live music and multiple low-tech special effects that reveal the river’s complex inner life. Pitched to oldsters and youngsters alike, “Hook, Line, and Sinker” celebrates the timeless art of fishing while offering the lowdown on eating fish from the Hudson. Arm-of-the-Sea Theater combines live music with visual storytelling to illuminate the links between humans and the life-support systems of the planet. Live music performance will be provided by Gamelan Djam Gong, Bill Ylitalo’s avant-garde gamelan group that is a unique blend of traditional and contemporary music inspired by the Indonesian isles, and performed on Balinese wayang batel instruments.
Under the festival tent, Yan Lyu will demonstrate the art of traditional printmaking using multiple carved wood blocks and rice paper. Other traditional Chinese crafts will include experiential stations for origami, kite making, calligraphy and dragon face painting for children. Chinese food arts will be demonstrated for all to see how to make dumplings, spring rolls and other Chinese delicacies. In the tradition of the day, festival attendees can try their hand at making a craft example of zongzi. Throughout the day on the festival grounds there will be kung fu and Chinese yo-yo demonstrations.
The Dutchess Dragon Boat Festival also includes local food vendors serving up fresh treats, including Twisted Soul, YumYum Noodle truck, and Chu, Poughkeepsie’s latest noodle bar from Charlie and Megan Fells. The festival includes many regional artists bringing artworks, including paintings, photography and jewelry, and community groups will share information on their services. This event is sponsored by Dutchess Tourism and proceeds benefit Arts Mid-Hudson and Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation.
Linda Marston-Reid is the president of Arts Mid-Hudson. The column appears every other week in Enjoy! Contact her at 845-454-3222 or [email protected]
If you go
What: Second annual Dutchess Dragon Boat Race and Festival
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 21; 9 a.m., opening ceremony; awards ceremony for winning boat racing teams immediately follows races in the afternoon
Where: Hudson River Rowing Association Community Boat House, south of Marist College Boat house, 270-272 N. Water St., Poughkeepsie
Information: Call Miles of Hope at 845-264-2005; visit www.dutchessdragonboat.org