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

2009 Dragon Boat Festival set for April 26

March 23, 2009

Lacey, Washington — Saint Martin’s University will host the fourth annual Dragon Boat Festival, Sunday, April 26, 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 24 teams and is expected to draw 4,500 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, universities, government agencies, and community organizations. Also participating in the event are many local and regional teams including the award-winning dragon boat team Blind Ambition from Hillsboro, Oregon whose members are blind and or visually impaired.

Teams from the Cities of Lacey and Olympia are preparing for a neighborly showdown on Capitol Lake as well.

“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 of international programs & 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 communities 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 internship opportunities in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Zhuhai. In addition, about 40 students from China are currently studying at Saint Martin’s.

The Dragon Boat Challenge is supported by a number of organizations throughout the Puget Sound area, including the Cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater, the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Olympia Area Chinese Fellowship, the Olympia, /Zhangzhou Sister Cities Association, the Port of Olympia, the Thurston County Economic Development Council, the Thurston County Chamber, the U.S. Commercial Services Seattle, the Washington China Relations Council, and the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. In addition, many individuals including students from Saint Martin’s University contributed to make this year’s festival possible.

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

Stephen C. McGlone
Vice president for institutional advancement
Saint Martin's University