Our 3rd Annual Dragon Boat Race Festival to be held at the harbor of Port Jefferson Village and it will take place on Saturday, September 17, 2016. A committee of chamber members, county representatives and tourism professionals are bringing fun, competition and recreation to Port Jefferson’s Village beautiful harbor.
This event will include local and regional teams coming together to race against each other in a series of heats. Novice teams are provided with instruction and all of the necessary equipment to race. For more information about forming a team, CLICK HERE .
The event will begin at 9:00 AM and conclude at approximately 5:30 PM. Spectators are encouraged to come to Port Jefferson harbor with their lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the festivities. Food vendors and music will keep the event lively for all throughout the day.
This festival is focused community involvement and charitable giving. For more information on the Chamber of Commerce, please scroll down.
DRAGON BOAT HISTORY:
Similar to outrigger canoe (va’a) racing but unlike competitive rowing and canoe racing, dragon boating has a rich fabric of ancient ceremonial, ritualistic and religious traditions. In other words, the modern competitive aspect is but one small part of this complex of water craftsmanship. The use of dragon boats for racing and dragons are believed by scholars, sinologists and anthropologists to have originated in southern central China more than 2,500 years ago, in Dongting Lake and along the banks of such iconic rivers as the Chang Jiang, also known as Yangtze. Dragon boat racing as the basis for annual water rituals and festival celebrations, and for the traditional veneration of the Asian dragon water deity, has been practiced continuously since this period. The celebration is an important part of ancient agricultural Chinese society, celebrating the summer rice planting. Dragon boat racing activity historically was situated in the Chinese sub-continent’s southern-central “rice bowl”: where there were rice paddies, so were the dragon boats.
Like so many legends, Dragon Boat races reportedly started to honor a man whose fight against tyranny ended with his death…
Dragon Boat racing is based on a legend of the ancient patriot-poet Qu Yuan who lived from 340-278 BC. He was a Court Minister who advocated reforms for his home state of Chu. The King of Chu, however, disliked him for it and banished him from the state.
In exile, he wandered the country writing poetry expressing his concerns for his homeland and its people. In 278 BC when Qu Yuan heard that his home had been invaded, he jumped into the Ni Lo River and drowned himself.
Legend has it that local fishermen raced out to the river to save him, but couldn’t. To prevent his body from being eaten by the fish, they threw rice dumplings into the water as an offering to his heroic spirit. This was the beginning of Dragon Boat Racing.
Today, rice dumplings are eaten on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, which is commemorated each year on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Four days before the festival begins, the dragon boats are taken from their resting places and their heads and tails attached. They are then ritually blessed by a Buddhist monk and later brought to life before the races by having their eyes dotted in red paint.
In Hong Kong, it is the fishermen of the territory’s outlying islands such as Lantau, Lamma, and Cheung Chau, who observe these rituals. After the races, it is customary to spend the remainder of the day observing street theater, traditional Chinese dance performances, martial arts and other cultural demonstrations.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HOST:
The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce is a 100 year old organization that has a 200 membership that represents all types of businesses and professionals. They host a number of events during the year with the Dragon Boat Race Festival as a new addition.
The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce is a member non-profit organization that is dedicated to establishing and maintaining itself as an advocate, voice, and resource for businesses in our community. We provide access to information and promote economic development and commerce.
Barbara Ransome – Director of Operations