On the first weekend in June, hundreds of enthusiasts from around the world converged on the Willamette River
to participate in the Dragon Boat Races during the annual Rose Festival.
It was quite a spectacle!
Colorful boats with crews of 23 were racing each other between the Marquam
bridges — a distance of approximately 700 yards. Ignoring their modern clothing, it would have been easy to imagine, based upon the style of their boats and their furious paddling, that I was watching competitions from the dawn of dragon boat racing
more than 2,500 years ago.
According to the event organizers,
this was the 26th annual Dragon Boat Race, with 70 to 90 teams competing in Taiwan-style dragon boats. A country bumpkin like me
never whudda thunk that such a spectacle took place in the big city of Portland!
I was intrigued by the caller, whose main responsibility is to beat a large drum in the bow of the boat to keep the rowers synchronized and up to speed. The only other time I had seen such a thing was a scene in Ben Hur. Charlton Heston
sure could have used one of their life jackets!
Part of the fun for the crew is to dress up for the occasion — especially the three non-rowers: the tiller, the caller and the flag catcher. A number of the pictures in this album show that they were doing their part to keep Portland weird.
When I wander around the Big City on my photographic outings, I suppose I’m doing my part too!