The sixth annual Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival is ready to set sail this weekend.
The Asian-based event, which is sponsored by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, will take place Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Mayor Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park and the Port Jefferson Inner Harbor.
According to the International Dragon Boat Federation, dragon boat racing stems from ancient Chinese tradition and is a show of patriotism.
This year, 27 teams will be participating— ranging from nonprofits, community/business, corporate, to club teams.
The opening ceremonies are at 8:30 a.m. and the racing starts at 9 a.m., with boats going out every 12 minutes until 4:35 p.m.
Each dragon boat holds 20 paddlers, 1 steerer, and 1 drummer.
To help advance that tradition here, the chamber gets help from a company called High Five, which travels across the U.S. to set up dragon boat races.
“They provide the equipment, boats, racecourse, record times, and schedule races,” said Barbara Ransome, the chamber’s director of operations.
In addition to the races, there will be vendors and live entertainment throughout the festival until 5:00 p.m.
The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Stony Brook University’s Confucius Institute to help bring Pan-Asian groups to the event.
For the first time ever, the festival will have a Taiko drumming competition.
“We will be giving away the gift certificate to a local restaurant for the best drummer,” said Ransome.
In addition to drumming, other contests like the best t-shirt competition will take place at noon, giving the racers rest midday.
Foodies should expect Asian cuisine such as potstickers, lo-mein, sushi, fried wontons. There will be a variety of other food trucks selling empanadas, BBQ, Italian food, and more.
The Dragon Boat Race Festival is filled with family-friendly activities. There will be traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy (sponsored by the Confucius Institute), origami, trick Yo-Yo demonstrations, face painting, and kite making.
There will also be opportunities to try on Hans, traditional Chinese clothing, to take photos with.
“It’s a huge cultural education experience,” explained Ransome. “It is the connectivity of Asian culture and our local community and it is a very nice, festive day.”
To see all the day’s vendors, click here.
The village parking lots surrounding the race are $.50 per half hour.
Additional parking can be found at CVS and the parking lots across from St. Charles Hospital, and the corner of Belle Terre Road and Myrtle avenue, as well as Caroline Fields. There will be free transportation from these lots to the harbor, all provided by the Port Jeff Jitney.
On-street parking is free but there are time constraints.