Saint Martin’s to bring competition and camaraderie to Budd Inlet in seventh annual Dragon Boat Festival

March 28, 2012

DragonBoatPhotoLACEY, WASHINGTON—Paddles up! The seventh annual Saint Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival will take place Saturday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Port Plaza, Port of Olympia, in Olympia, Washington. The festival, presented by Saint Martin’s University in cooperation with the Washington Dragon Boat Association, is free and open to the public.

This year’s dragon boat lineup features the paddling talent of 32 local and regional teams comprised of colleges, universities, high schools, school districts, government agencies, local businesses, community organizations, and the Squaxin Island Tribe. More than 6,000 spectators from throughout the Pacific Northwest are expected to attend the daylong competition. Staff members of the Thurston Economic Development Council, Thurston Chamber of Commerce, and Access the USA will join forces to compete against other community teams including the City of Tumwater and City of Olympia.

“One of Saint Martin’s core values is ‘community,’” says Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., president of Saint Martin’s University. “By bringing these paddlers together in friendly competition and camaraderie, the Saint Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival strengthens the spirit of community both on our campus and in the greater Puget Sound.”

This year’s event kicks off at 9 a.m. with the “Dotting of the Eye” ceremony, a blessing of the dragon boats, a lion dance and a procession of the teams. The races consist of three heats and three divisions, beginning at 9:45 a.m. and continuing until 4:45 p.m. The closing and awards will begin shortly after 5 p.m.

Olympia-based radio station 94.5 ROXY will be broadcasting live from the festival.

In addition to the dragon boat races, the family-oriented celebration features multi-ethnic cultural performances and a community boardwalk showcasing local organizations as well as traditional arts and crafts. Teams also will compete on dry land, vying for the award of “Best Decorated Tent” based on the theme of the Chinese calendar’s “Year of the Dragon.”

“With every year, the popularity of the Dragon Boat Festival increases,” says Josephine Yung, Saint Martin’s vice president of international programs and development. “Saint Martin’s is proud to bring together community members for this unique, ancient form of competition.”   

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. Today, dragon boat races are an opportunity to celebrate culture and community.

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.

The Dragon Boat Festival is supported by a number of organizations throughout the Puget Sound area and beyond, including: 94.5 ROXY; the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater; the Port of Olympia; the Olympia Area Chinese Fellowship; the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau; the Thurston County Chamber; the Thurston County Economic Development Council; the U.S. Commerce Service, Seattle; and the Washington State Department of Commerce. In addition, many individuals including students from Saint Martin’s University have made contributions to make this year’s festival possible.

For more information about this event, including ways to support the festival or organize a team, visit or contact the Office of International Programs and Development at 360-438-4521.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus 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 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 extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Brenda Burns
Office of International Programs and Development

Sarah Holdener
Director of community relations and event management
Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University