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Dragon Boating Gains Popularity in the United States

Dragon Boating Gains Popularity in the United States

Dragon boating

The 2014 Oswego Dragon Festival logo, created by SUNY Oswego Graduate

What began as an ancient Chinese tradition over 2,000 years ago has become a widespread phenomenon across North America and the world. Dragon Boating is more popular now in the United States than it ever has been before. That is mostly due to groups and businesses like 22 Dragons, who help create community events centered around the popular sport.

Dragon boating has become popular for many reasons. It’s thrilling for participants to fly across the water in a boat, paddling in unison with 20 other people.  However, there is one main reason why dragon boating has the appeal it does. It is a sport that anyone can participate in!

“Dragon boating is a great sport for people of all physical abilities. People of all ages and sizes can enjoy this sport. It’s a sport that relies heavily on teamwork. Paddling in unison is the first key to success,” said Matt Robert, co-founder of 22 Dragons.

Dragon Boating

The Oswego Dragon Festival raises money for the Oswego YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign

Dragon boat festivals are popping up all over the United States and the world due to the popularity of the sport. In fact, 22 Dragons has helped to set up 28 dragon festivals in the United States. Many more are currently in the works.

Other than festivals, many communities in the U.S. are organizing dragon boat clubs. These clubs practice dragon boating throughout the year, both in and out of the water. Some clubs are competitive; others serve as a healthy community activity and a social outlet. In fact, Oswego is currently working on starting a Dragon Boat Club for those who enjoy the activity and want to practice year-long.

The fun, team atmosphere of dragon boating is what keeps so many people coming back to the sport for multiple festivals. “It’s a perfect blend of working together to reach a goal—a beautiful collaboration— on a dragon boat,” said Jacqueline Sheffield, member of the Oswego Dragon Festival committee.

Many community dragon festivals, like ours, help to raise money for a charity or non-profit organization.  Some festivals raise up to $200,000 to $300,000 for various charities.

“We helped charities raise 1.5 million in the USA last year,” said Robert. “ I want to help raise 50 million in one year. Some people might think that I’m crazy to think this, but I know it can happen.”

The Oswego YMCA, dragon boat teams, and our community hope to raise more money for our community’s non-profit organizations for many years to come. Last year, our festival raised over $65,000 for the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign. Donations gave local children scholarships to the Oswego YMCA and gave them access to the Y’s programs and facilities.

“The popularity of dragon boating in the world will help fuel the success of our festival,” Sheffield said. “ Everyone who has seen it here, paddled, or volunteered has seen the impact of our entire community working together to strengthen our community.”

Learn more about the Oswego Dragon Festival

Find the Oswego Dragon Festival on Facebook