Procession of boats to kick off Saint Martin’s Dragon Boat Festival

April 13, 2012

processionOfCarolsLACEY, WASHINGTON — Celebration of Saint Martin’s 2012 Dragon Boat Festival will begin early this year, with a special pre-festival procession of boats on Friday, April 27. Leading the procession will be a traditionally carved Squaxin Island tribal canoe paddled by members of the Squaxin Island Canoe Family; four dragon boats, paddled by representatives from Saint Martin’s University and the Washington Dragon Boat Association, will follow. The procession of boats departs from Olympia’s Swantown Marina at 6:00 p.m. and is expected to arrive at 7:00 p.m. at the Port Plaza, Port of Olympia, where an elder from the Squaxin Island Tribe will greet and bless the paddlers as they come ashore.

The procession of boats is a symbolic gesture to the Salish Sea original inhabitants who prospered along the shores long before the arrival of dragon boats. By leading the procession, the Squaxin Island Tribe — which will be participating in Saturday’s Dragon Boat Festival — is expressing its welcome and hospitality to the festival participants. The event will close with a celebration of friendship and cultural understanding at the Port Plaza. The event is free and open to the public.

The seventh annual Saint Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival will take place the following day, Saturday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Port Plaza, Port of Olympia. The festival, presented by Saint Martin’s University in cooperation with the Washington Dragon Boat Association, will showcase the paddling talent of 32 local and regional teams from several 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 free daylong competition.

This year’s festival 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.

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; and the U.S. Commerce Service. 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, visit 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 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:

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