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Chamber of Commerce’s Dragon Boat Festival will continue on with COVID-19 restrictions

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s major summer event regularly draws a crowd estimated to be in the thousands, but this year’s Dragon Boat Festival will have a crowd of just a few hundred because of COVID-19 alterations.

The Rowan County Chamber of Commerce has announced that its Dragon Boat Festival held on July 25 will be held at the Shrine Club on High Rock Lake with strict limits on attendees. Spectators will not be allowed. Participating teams will number no more than 25 people and be spaced 6 feet from other teams. The championship race will be live streamed for those hoping to see how their coworkers or loved ones place.

The Dragon Boat Festival normally serves as a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce’s small business programs, and organization this year hopes to keep the event’s momentum going while also covering costs.

Chamber President Elaine Spalding said one major benefit of the Dragon Boat Festival has been team building for corporate participants. This year more than ever, Spalding said, some companies need team building exercises.

“We are taking every precaution available to keep our competitors, sponsor partners and vendors safe,” Spalding said. “This year’s event will look a little different, due to current North Carolina restrictions. We thank our sponsors, teams and especially our volunteers for working with us as our plans have changed.”

She estimated that there could be a crowd of up to 500 if a similar number of teams participate as recent years. The peninsula on which the race is held will be large enough to space that many people out appropriately, she said.

More specific changes to the event include:

• Only sponsors, teams, a limited number of vendors, volunteers and staff will be allowed on the property during the event.

• Sponsors, teams and vendors will be assigned tent spaces.

• Pan Am Dragon Boat Company, which helps put on the event, will step up cleaning protocols for boats, paddles and life jackets. Its staff will also manage social distancing in team marshaling areas.

• There will be added hand washing stations and hand sanitizers.

• No pets or coolers will be allowed.

The Shrine Club is located at 6480 Long Ferry Road. For more information, contact the Rowan Chamber at 704-633-4221 or info@rowanchamber.com.

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