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Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival draws large participation, crowds

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By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The day was just right for a boat race for the teams that participated in this year’s Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival. Organizers say this was the largest crowd and the most teams in the four years the event has taken place and they expect it to continue to grow.

“I just like coming out here. I think it is just wonderful coming out here being with all of the people and to watch the fun that they have,” said event chairwoman Teresa Dakins.

The event took place at the Shrine Club on High Rock Lake. This year marks the fourth year for the Rowan Chamber-hosted event. There were 25 teams that competed this year with thousands more watching from the shore. Each team competed in three heats on a 350m straight course.

During the race, a drummer sits in the bow pounding the drum to the beat of the paddlers’ stroke, and a steersperson stands in the stern guiding the team down the water race course.

There were a number of new teams this year and even more people who attended, Dakins said.

Dakins said the Trinity Oaks team really exemplified what organizers hope happens at the event. The Trinity Oaks team had a member who couldn’t swim and had never been on the water.

“She entrusted her teammates to get in a boat and go out on that water and to me that’s the epitome of teamwork and that’s what this race is all about — teamwork and team building,” Dakins said.

The event was created four years ago as a team-building exercise and one that would create camaraderie for groups who participated.

“It is a lot of fun. It just shows what kind of community Rowan County has here,” Dakins said.

Elaine Spalding, president of the Rowan Chamber, said there will be a Dragon Boat festival next year.

“The reason we keep doing it is because the feedback we’ve had from companies who are sponsoring it and the companies who have teams in the dragon boat festival say this is the best team-building exercise they have ever done for their company,” she said.

“Everybody leaves feeling good about each other and they feel good about living and working in Rowan County,” Spalding said.

Four years ago, Carole Simmons joined some of her neighbors in the Anchor Downs subdivision for a day of paddling on a team. She’s participated every year.

“It’s a great time of camaraderie. We will discuss the outcomes, good or bad for a year until we come back,” she said.

Last year, the Anchor Downs team won a medal.

Simmons said the whole key is just getting together as a team, “if you are a good or bad rower, the main thing is you are rowing like everybody else as a team. Plus the turnout is just a great event for a weekend.”

Cindy Hart, another Anchor Downs teammate, said they enjoy the event so much.

“The same core group of people come out and some people will join or drop off. We’ve had some new people move into the neighborhood. They looked strong so we signed them up right away,” Hart joked.

Hart said the event is a great time of camaraderie and fellowship.

“People don’t realize what a beautiful lake High Rock is and they are always surprised. We need to share what a beautiful resource we have right here in Rowan County,” Hart said.

High Five Dragon Boat provides each team with all the necessary equipment, which includes the boat, paddles, and life vests. Teams learn how to paddle during an introductory practice session. On race day, each team competes in three heats.

The Salisbury/Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau provided trolley rides to and from the parking areas.

This year’s winners were: First place was Cross Fit — Albemarle, second place was Novant Health Orthopedic “We’re Sexy & We Row it” and third place was F & M’s “Strokes of Genius.”

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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