31st annual Dragon Boat Races kick off Saturday morning

It's going to be a busy weekend for the Rose Festival!
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 12:25 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - It’s going to be a busy weekend for the Rose Festival! Just hours before the Grand Floral Parade starts on Saturday, the 31st annual Dragon Boat Races will begin at the River Place Marina.

The races have been a part of the Rose Festival since 1989 and pay homage to an ancient Chinese tradition. More than 60 teams will be competing in races across the Willamette River this weekend.

Jeff Curtis, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rose Festival, said the tradition began after the ornate dragon boats were generously donated a year prior by the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister Association.

“These boats have been remodeled, replenished, refurbished, and ready to go on the river for community competing for prizes,” Curtis said.

Held on the Willamette River near the Hawthorne Bridge, the races feature four-team heats held every nine minutes. Dozens of local, national, and international teams will be competing in this year’s races.

Winners take home a ribbon or trophy, but Curtis said for competitors that’s not what it’s about.

“It’s really about the pride of people celebrating the Rose Festival, and actually performing in an athletic event. It’s very competitive,” he said.

It’s one of the last big events of the Rose Festival. Curtis said he could not be more thrilled by this year’s festival turnout. Rain or shine, Portlanders were ready to celebrate.

“I am so proud of the individuals - the thousands of people who produced this festival to bring it back,” Curtis said. “The joy we are seeing and people coming down, despite weather conditions changing, people love their Rose Festival.”

Dragon Boat Races on Saturday and Sunday will kick off at 8 a.m.