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Wednesday, 18 July 2012 14:45

PACE Rotary Club's Dragon boat festival returns to Elkwater

Written by  Rose Sanchez
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Dragon boats will return to Elkwater this weekend (July 21-22) thanks to the work of Medicine Hat’s PACE Rotary Club.


The dragon boat festival kicks off with practice runs on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. before the actual racing gets underway on Sunday, at the Eastern dock.
“We’ve had a good response,” says Andrea Seiler, sponsorship chair with the PACE Rotary Dragon Boat Festival. There are about 11 teams entered with between 16 to 20 members per team. Servus Credit Union has stepped forward as the event’s major sponsor.
“We’re always looking for ways to make a meaningful contribution to the community,” says Seiler. When members of the rotary club learned how hard it was for members of the local dragon boat association to organize a festival and take part in it, PACE members decided to take up the organization of the event.
Organizing began just after Christmas and a lot of support has been offered by staff in the interprovincial park. A new dock is in place for use for the festival, and it will make loading and unloading the dragon boats more efficient.
“They’ve been a good partner,” adds Seiler about the interprovincial park. She also credits the work done by the chair of the event, Amanda Berg.
The practice day will allow teams, especially those with team members who have never dragon boat raced before, to learn the sport and get a feel for the boat on the water. Dragon boats are fast when team members paddle in unison, helped by the beat of a drum.
Everything for the festival is supplied by organizers. An Edmonton organization will supply the dragon boats, paddles and flotation devices, says Seiler.
The event proves to be a fun way to get some exercise and take part in a fast-growing sport. There will also be prizes for various divisions and each boat is guaranteed three races on race day.
“It should be a pretty good show,” says Seiler, about the action on the water for the spectators who head out Elkwater to enjoy the day.
As this is if the first year the PACE Rotary club has organized the dragon boat festival, all money raised will be put back into hosting the event. If successful, the club will organize the festival again, creating an annual fundraiser for the organization.
The PACE Rotary club attracts members between 25 and 45 years old who are looking to connect with their community. Currently, there are about 18 members and the dragon boat festival is the largest event the club has organized.
“We’re always looking for new members,” adds Seiler.
Opening ceremonies take place on Sunday at 9 a.m. with racing underway at 9:30 a.m. A Rose ceremony honouring cancer survivors and those who have lost their battle takes place at 12: 30 p.m. followed by more racing until 4 p.m. The day finishes with awards and a  closing ceremony.

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