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Colorado Dragon Boat Festival celebrates Asian Pacific American culture

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By Stephanie Wolf
For KDVR.com

DENVER -- The 13th annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (CDBF) returned to Denver's Sloan's Lake Saturday and Sunday with almost 50 teams competing in various divisions.

You can meet FOX31 reporters and anchors, who will have a booth set up at the Dragon Boat Festival, and will hanging out all afternoon Saturday.

Make sure to stop by and have your picture taken in our photo booth, courtesy of Just ShutterUP!

The CDBF began with the mission to celebrate, honor and promote cultural awareness for Colorado's Asian Pacific American (APA) communities through educational tools, athletic competition and sharing APA culture, arts, traditions and cuisine with the general public.

It kicked off Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with the “Awakening the Dragon Ceremony,” a special ritual during which Buddhist monks chant and selected guests “dot the eyes” of the dragons on the racing boats -- the ceremony intends to awaken the spirit of the dragon within the boats and bless the competing athletes.

Festivities are free to the public and continue through early Sunday evening.

History

An ancient Chinese sport, dragon boat racing is over 2,000 years old, according to the CDBF. The athletic event honors the ancient Chinese poet and warrior Chu Yuan, who was banished when he fell out of favor with the Chinese court.

According to ancient legends, Yuan eventually committed suicide and drowned himself in the Mi Lo River after his banishment. When his followers learned of his death, they took to the river and slapped the water with their paddles to keep fish away from his body.

Today, the races are symbolic of Yuan's sacrifice for honor and justice and have grown into an international competitive event, with dragon boat races being held all over the world.

Attending the festival

Now in its 13th year, the CDBF continues its tradition of hosting a dragon boat race and sharing elements of APA culture with the city of Denver.

Festival attendees can sample authentic Asian cuisine at the festival's two "Taste of Asia" food courts. The event also offers more typical festival fare like brats, burgers, fries and ice cream. People can also shop the CDBF marketplace for a variety of Asian crafts, fashion, jewelry, gift items and more.

More cultural aspects include a Japanese folk dance lesson led by Denver Buddhist Temple’s Minyo Kai dancers on Saturday night, martial arts showcases throughout the festival, a "Year of the Snake" presentation by the Denver Zoo, live cultural performances at the Main Performing Arts Stage and, of course, dragon boat races.

Parking: Parking is available at Sports Authority Arena for $5 per car. The festival is providing free shuttle buses that will run every few minutes to and from Sloan's Lake.

For more information, visit the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival website at cdbf.org.