The hot but overcast conditions set up a perfect afternoon on the water for teams starting practice Tuesday for the 2012 Mountain States Dragon Boat Festival.
Putting on life jackets and positioning themselves on either the far left or the far right in a section of the boat, coaches instructed teams, including the first team on the water, Pediatric Paddlers, on rhythm and techniques that could be useful for their weekend races.
The 7th Annual Dragon Boat event will be held Saturday, starting with an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m.
Patty Bolton, corporate director of signature events for Mountain States Health Foundation, said the Dragon Boat event is such a fun and unique event for all involved, as participants paddle the 250 meters at Boone Lake helping to raise money and awareness for Mountain States Health Alliance oncology services.
“You just see everybody having fun. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how big you are or how skinny you are, you can do something,” she said. “We have teams coming from all over the region and we are turning it more into a festival. Funville comes and we have Dragon Land and that’s sponsored by the First Tennessee Foundation and you can bring your kids and they can play there all day on all of the blowups.”
Food vendors and an array of artists also will be at the event to entertain and feed visitors.
“There is something for everybody. It’s so colorful. Everybody has a tent, they decorate the tent,” Bolton said.
This year already has already seen increased participation from past years, as well as an increase in other events for those who just stop by to check out the race. “This year we have 37 teams on board,” Bolton said. “Art in the Park is growing. We have over 40 artists that are going to be there and we (will) have people from the Farmer’s Market.”
Shooting for $100,000 in donations from this year’s event, Bolton said she expects the competition to be fierce and for it to be a fun time for all.
The Science Hill High School band will held kick off the opening ceremony and the competition is projected to end at around 3:30 p.m.