Dragons on the go!

April 16, 2013

LACEY, Wash. – Brightly colored dragon boats and 32 local and regional teams vying to paddle those vessels to victory will return to Budd Bay Inlet in Olympia Saturday, April 27, for a day of fun and fierce competition at the 8th annual Saint Martin’s Dragon Boat Festival.

More than 4,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festival, which will take place 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at Port Plaza in Budd Inlet. The day-long event, presented by the University in cooperation with the Washington Dragon Boat Association, is free and open to the public. Some 750 participants will paddle their way through the annual Dragon Boat Races as part of the day’s activities. The paddlers are members of teams from universities, high schools, school districts, government agencies, community organizations and local businesses, hailing from Seattle to Portland.

dragonbaotDragon boat racing dates back to fourth-century China, commemorating famed poet Qu Yuan, who threw himself into the Milo River to protest the political turmoil and suffering of the people at that time. Today, dragon boat races are an opportunity to celebrate culture and community.

“Friendly competition and having fun while learning about another culture’s time-honored traditions make the Dragon Boat Festival an eagerly anticipated event for the University and surrounding communities,” says Josephine Yung, Saint Martin’s vice president of international programs and development.

Saint Martin’s University has been actively involved in education and cultural exchanges with China since 1995. Each year, members of Saint Martin’s faculty travel to China to teach international business, accounting and general education courses. Saint Martin’s students regularly participate in China study tours and internship opportunities in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Zhuhai. In addition, about 50 students from China are currently studying at Saint Martin’s University.

Following welcoming remarks at 9 a.m. by Saint Martin’s University President Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D., and Rick Panowicz, honorary chair of the Dragon Boat Steering Committee, the festival will kick off at 9:10 a.m. with the traditional “Dotting of the Eye” ceremony, a blessing of the dragon boats. The races will begin at 9:45 a.m., and will consist of three heats and three divisions. The participating teams include the competitive division teams of Paddles of Fury and Wasabi Kraken; the intermediate teams of Seattle Flying Dragons and Sun Dragons Paddling Club; and the community teams of City of Tumwater and Apple Therapy Dragons. The festival will be broadcasted by 94.5 ROXY.

In addition to the races, there will be Chinese traditional art demonstrations, martial arts performances and music. A lion dance will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The competitions will conclude at approximately 5 p.m., and the closing and awards ceremony will begin shortly after the races end.

Organizations throughout the Puget Sound area and beyond are supporting the Dragon Boat Festival, including: Port of Olympia; the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater; 94.5 ROXY; the Academy of International Education (AIE); Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University (ASSMU); Puget Sound Energy; Olympia Federal Savings; Print NW; Thurston County Visitor and Convention Bureau; Thurston County Chamber of Commerce; Thurston County Economic Development Council; Olympia Area Chinese Fellowship; U.S. Commercial Services of Seattle and Tacoma; Washington State Department of Commerce; Washington State China Relations Council and World Trade Center, Tacoma.

For more information about this event, visit www.stmartin.edu/dragonboat or contact the Office of International Programs and Development at 360-438-4504.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Office of International Programs and Development
360-438-4504

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager
360-412-6126; MDwyer@stmartin.edu