Dragon boats are coming to the Teche Saturday, March 23. It was just a matter of time. Dragon boat “festivals” are increasingly popular around the country as fund-raising events, and the sport itself is taking off internationally.
A dragon boat is a 40-foot-plus fiberglass pirogue paddled by a team about the size of a Mardi Gras krewe. Don’t worry if you don’t happen to have one, as long as you have enough friends. Just sign up with Acadiana Dragon Boat Festival and they will furnish you the boat and an experienced coxswain. You get a training session a week prior to race day and guaranteed participation in at least two races.
A full team consists of 20 paddlers, one drummer, and three alternates. Participants must be at least 16 years old.
The race is 200 meters. Winners will receive medals.
The cost to enter a team is $2,200. Proceeds will benefit the New Iberia City Park Playground Enhancement Project, volunteers raising funds to purchase playground equipment for the park.
It will be a fun event just to attend as a spectator. Teams are encouraged to costume and decorate their headquarter tents. A deejay will entertain the crowd in the morning and Nik-L-Beer will perform from noon to 4 p.m.
With the event sure to draw visitors from outside the area, Cajuns for Bayou Teche is stepping up to organize a bayou clean-up to ensure everybody comes away with a positive impression of the Teche.
Volunteers are asked to meet at the New Iberia City Park boat ramp starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 2. Volunteers with motor boats are needed, but kayaks and canoes are also encouraged. Drinks and garbage bags will be provided. Volunteers should bring gloves.
This group, founded and led by Blake Couvillion, has paved the way for Tour du Teche, the three-day, 135-mile paddle marathon, since its inception, removing nearly 50 tons of trash and debris from the bayou.
“Cajuns for Bayou Teche and its volunteers has been able to improve the banks of Bayou Teche over the past several years,” Couvillion said. “We love to see new recreational activities such as Tour du Teche and now the Dragon Boat Festival coming to our bayou.”
To find out more about helping out, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or just show up.
For more about the dragon boat races, go to acadianadragonboatfestival.com, contact Callie Borne or Angela Cestia, (337) 352-2180, email@example.com.