Victoria’s Inner Harbour was even busier than usual over the weekend as the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival returned for its 27th year.
More than 30 teams from all over the West Coast, including the United States, gathered for the three-day event filled with racing, food, vendors, and entertainment.
“They are here to compete, they are very serious about their dragon boating, but they are also here just to enjoy the Inner Harbour, which is one of the really special things about this event,” said Tony Joe, board of directors member with the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society. “It is the only dragon boat race that happens in a working harbour in North America. The only other place we see this is in China.”
That unique setting was on full display Saturday (Aug. 13) as dragon boats mingled with water taxis, ferries, private boats, and float planes.
Joe said dragon boating is a great opportunity to celebrate Chinese culture, community, and teamwork, all while benefiting a great cause. In the case of this particular festival, proceeds benefit the BC Cancer Foundation, with more than $800,000 being raised since the festival was first held in 1995.
“One of the big things about the festival is that the competition is in many ways rooted in cancer survivors,” said Joe. “A lot of the competitors are cancer survivors or people who know somebody who had had cancer.”
For Dani Kala of team Catch 22 from Vancouver, Wash., the Victoria event is one of the best of its kind, thanks to the wonderful atmosphere and quality of the competition.
“It was fantastic, there are some really good teams here,” said Kala. “The team we just beat on the water, we raced them last month in Kent (Wash.) and it was so close also.”
The festival continues on Sunday starting with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. and ending with the closing ceremonies at 5 p.m.