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All Sides with Ann Fisher

Dragon Boat Racing in Columbus

When Dona Watterson rows with the Greater Columbus Rowing Association on Griggs Reservoir, she faces away from the finish line. The tradition of Dragon Boat racing, an ancient pastime that has regained popularity in recent decades, is exactly opposite. Watterson is coordinating the race. She says that boating fans can easily see for themselves on Saturday at the second annual Dragon Boat race on the Scioto River in Genoa Park Downtown. Crew is comparable to Dragon Boat Racing in that both types of teams compete in regatta-style, 500-meter races in long, skinny watercraft on calm water, Watterson said. That’s where the similarities end, she added. Dragon Boat racing calls for a team of 22 -- 20 paddlers, one drummer, and one sweep, who steers the vessel. The paddlers face the finish line – but they must cut the water to the beat of the drummer. The tradition has gained traction across the United States, from Washington D.C. to California. On Saturday, four local teams will use boats provided by and get some pointers from a seasoned Dragon Boat team traveling to the event from Pittsburgh. The Columbus Dragon Boat race – which includes a mini festival with cultural workshops, including origami -- is intended to kick off the 17th Annual Asian Festival slated for Memorial weekend at Franklin Park Conservatory, said Helen Chan, who’s managing the land activities. For more information about Saturday’s Dragon Boat race on the Scioto River, and the Asian Festival at Franklin Park Conservatory, visit www.asian-festival.org.


  • Helen Chan (Dragon Boat Races Land Activities Co-Chair)
  • Dona Watterson (Dragon Boat Water Activities Co-Chair)

Read More:

  • Columbus Asian Festival Official Site
  • Dragon Boat Racing Official Site