July 10, 2008

Dragon Boat Festival and races take over lakefront

This is an oar and it works like this...

It was not a pretty sight. The sixteen prospective Dragon Boat oarsmen could barely form two straight lines, much less lift their arms in unison.

This can't end well, I thought to myself, fearing what might happen when they actually sat in a boat ... in the water!

Sixty rowing teams from all over the community -- with names like Bank of Elmwood Turtles, Rowing Stones, Insured Hangover, Drag'n Ass -- have been spending time on Lake Michigan, learning how to row as a team... oh, and not tip the boat over.

Ninety minutes after they began Wednesday night, barely able to paddle up the Root River and under the Main Street bridge on the count of "One, Two Three" from their steersman, the team from Drewco Corporation returned to the dock adjacent to the Chancery.

It looked and sounded like a different team entirely. Mostly synchronized, they paddled in unison. Gone was the lame count; now they stroked to the experienced oarsman's chant: ONE ... MORE ... BEER! they yelled, as the Dragon Boat zipped through the water. (More practice sessions are scheduled this afternoon, from 4 to 7 p.m. by the Chancery.)

We'll be seeing a lot of that this weekend, as the Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival launches here again, beginning Friday night. It all takes place at Samuel Myers Park. Saturday's races are best viewed from "The Hill" alongside South Main Street between 14th and 16th. Thirty-two four-team races are scheduled, before the championship series late in the afternoon.

Here's the schedule:


5 p.m. Gates open and food and beverage service begins.
6:30 p.m. The teams parade from Festival Hall to Samuel Myers Park.
6:30 p.m. Entertainment from the Fun Factory
7:30 p.m. Opening ceremony in the Main Tent


8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Racing! Samuel Myers Park; best viewing from The Hill
Noon Entertainment by Hale O Malo Polynesian Revue at Samuel Myers Park Main Tent
5 p.m. Entertainment by Twang Dragons, in the Main Tent
5:30 p.m. Presentation of awards and closing ceremony, Main Tent

Meet the performers:

Twang Dragons provide a rip-roarin', down and dirty, greasy good time. They’ve been tearing up stages big and small with self-penned tunes that fall somewhere between Johnny Cash and Tom Petty. Or think maybe John Hiatt or Steve Earle meets Chrissie Hynde if she sang all twangy-like.

Hale O Malo Polynesian Revue has over a decade of experience delivering high quality and authentic Polynesian entertainment. All of their authentic island dancers are professionally trained by Hawaii's best every year.

The band Fun Factory, fronted by Gary Lekas, has been serving the southeastern Wisconsin area since September of 1996. Armed with the motto: "It's about musicians serving musicians,” Gary has done just that – built a music store in the heart of downtown Racine, filled with musicians, ready, willing, and able to serve the local music community.

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