The Mountain States Foundation’s annual Dragon Boat races and festival are lining up, with this year’s event to help provide services and programs for local cancer patients in need.
With team registration down by 15 boats from last year and the team registration deadline coming up Friday, the foundation is encouraging area businesses, schools, churches and community groups to join the fun and the fundraising Saturday, Sept. 17, at Winged Deer Park.
While oncology services are not as visible as the Heart Coach tour bus that proceeds from last year’s festival helped purchase, or the Niswonger Children’s Hospital that the first several events helped build, Patty Bolton, the foundation’s corporate director of events, said they are tremendously meaningful to people battling cancer.
“There may be a patient who can’t pay for their medicine or someone who can’t pay a taxi to take them to their treatments. There are also programs to make it as comfortable as we can for them,” she said.
“It should be a fun day but our biggest hope is that we raise a lot of awareness and money for cancer patients. We would love to see 50 boats. We had 48 last year. They just need to get their teams together and come have some fun and do a lot of good for other people at the same time.”
On the water, this year’s races will once again be under the direction of Dragon Boat East, a Montreal company that made headlines earlier this year as the host of a Dragon Boat excursion with Britain’s royal couple, Prince William and Kate.
In addition to the races, this year’s lakefront festival will feature an all new Art in Park fine art exhibit and sale featuring artists from around the region who have been invited to show their works in exchange for a donation of one of their pieces to next year’s Mountain States Spirit Gala auction.
The Mountain States Heart Coach, for which last year’s paddlers raised more than $90,000, will be on display in the festival’s health fair area, along with the Marsh Blood Mobile and a variety of free health screenings and educational displays and materials.
For children, the Dragon Land play area will be back with giant inflatable attractions from Funville. And to keep everyone fed, there will be plenty of funnel cakes, kettle corn and other classic festival fare as well as food from some of the area’s best-loved eateries, including Alley Kat of Kingsport, Beef ’O’ Brady’s, CiCi’s Pizza, Panera Bread, Phil’s Dream Pit barbecue and Rita’s Italian Ice.
Bolton said sponsors are always welcome to help defray the cost of the festival, and for any company that wishes to lend their support, she noted the event typically draws several thousand people from across the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region.
Dragon Boat team registration will continue through Friday online at www.mountainstatesfoundation.org. For help registering a team or for sponsorship information, call the foundation office at 952-3114.