By Debra Massaro
The 2017 sixth annual MiraBay Dragon Boat Festival will take place on Saturday, March 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 428 Mira Bay Blvd. in Apollo Beach.
Rowing participants from across the state will come together to enjoy some healthy competition at the home of the Leviathans Dragon Racing Team. The race will consist of two 200m races, two 450m races, and one 2000m race. The team with the highest combined points from each race wins. Trophies and medals will be awarded.
Dragon Boat teams typically consist of 20-22 paddlers, one drummer or caller and one sweep (steers). These races have their roots in Ancient China where Imperial boats were decorated like dragons. The winners of these races were promoted into the Imperial Navy. Eventually, Europe and other nations took an interest in the sport, and it grew from there.
The local races, hosted and managed by the Pan American Dragon Boat Association, LLC (Panam), emerged from the voice of the community, according to MiraBay Activities Director, Ashley Adkins.
“There was resident interest to start a Dragon Boat team, and it eventually grew into wanting to host the races,” Adkins said.
The festival hosted 17 teams during the 2016 event, and Adkins hopes to see more involvement this year. Racing classes are varied to include youth, women, senior, community festival mixed, corporate festival mixed, club mixed, and BCS. In addition to the races, visitors can enjoy food trucks, music, and family friendly activities such as a plank challenge and bounce house. Local merchants from areas such as Lithia, Brandon, Lakeland, and St. Petersburg will offer attendees a chance to experience locally sourced goods such as fashion accessories, bath and beauty products, and free Tampa Bay Brewing Company beer samples at the MiraBay Market. MiraBay Clubhouse Manager, Mindy Anderson, and staff manage the festival portion and seek sponsorships through local businesses.
“We love that we have the opportunity to showcase our very own team, the Leviathans, to the entire community,” said Adkins. “We love supporting teamwork and physical activity and being able to offer more entertainment to everyone through the festival.”
For information visit www.panamdragonboat.com/races/mirabay-dragon-boat-festival-2-2. Racing team enrollment fees apply, but admission to the event is free.