Dragon boat paddlers to hit Capitol Lake for Saint Martin’s festival

2008 Dragon Boat Festival will draw teams from around the world

April 15, 2008

Lacey, Washington — Saint Martin’s University will host the third annual Dragon Boat Festival, Sunday, April 27, at Heritage Park on Capitol Lake in downtown Olympia. The festival, presented by Saint Martin’s in cooperation with the Washington Dragon Boat Association, will feature 22 competing teams and is expected to draw 1,000 spectators from throughout the Pacific Northwest. The event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is free and open to the public.

This year’s Dragon Boat lineup features paddling talent from several colleges and universities, including the 2006 champion, Shanghai Maritime University. Also participating in the event are many local and regional crews, including Hillsboro, Oregon-based Blind Ambition, an award-winning dragon boat team whose members are blind and visually impaired, and the cities of Lacey and Olympia, whose teams are currently preparing for a neighborly showdown on Capitol Lake.

“Dragon boat racing dates back to fourth-century China, commemorating famed poet, Qu Yuan, who threw himself in the Milo River to protest the political turmoil and suffering of the people at that time,” explains Josephine Yung, Saint Martin’s associate vice president for international programs and development. “Today, dragon boat races are an opportunity to celebrate culture and community.”

“Saint Martin’s is proud to once again host this event, bringing together members of the local and international community for a unique, ancient form of competition,” adds Yung.

The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with the “Dotting of the Eye” ceremony, a blessing of the dragon boats, a lion dance and procession of the teams. The races consist of three heats and two divisions, beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing until 4:45 p.m. The closing and awards will take place at 5 p.m.

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 teaching internship opportunities in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Zhuhai.

The Dragon Boat Festival is supported by a number of international organizations throughout the Puget Sound area, including: Washington China Relations Council; Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development; World Trade Center; Thurston County Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce; the Cities of Lacey, Tumwater and Olympia; Olympia-Zhangzhou Sister City; and Olympia Chinese Fellowship.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 320-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 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 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its five extension campuses located at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, Olympic College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For additional information:

Josephine Yung
Assistant vice president, Office of International Programs and Development
Saint Martin’s University

Mary White
Assistant director – community liaison, Office of International Programs and Development
Saint Martin’s University

Visit the Dragon Boat Festival website.