Dragon boat races planned for July 16 in Potsdam | Arts and Entertainment

HANNAWA FALLS — Clarkson University will host dragon boat races on the Raquette River at Postwood Park this summer.

The all-day event on July 16 will see teams of 21 competing for the fastest time around a short course.

The teams each consist of 20 paddlers and one drummer, with a steerperson at the helm using a gondola-like oar as a rudder. The helm will be provided by the company that makes the boats, Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing LLC.

Event organizer Christopher L. LaPoint said the races are more about teamwork than strength. He’s a Clarkson assistant clinical professor in the School of Health Sciences.

“If they don’t work well together, it doesn’t work,” he said. The drummer, who sits at the bow facing the stern, drums the beat to which the paddlers stroke and makes adjustments to the tempo on the fly.

The event will kick off around 8 a.m. with an eye-dotting ceremony.

“It’s opening the eyes of the dragons, a whole ceremonial thing before the beginning of the races,” Mr. LaPoint said.

Dragon boat races date back two millennia to ancient China. In China today, there are dragon boat festivals held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

There is no fee to register for the races.

“What we are asking, if you are going to be on a boat if you could raise a minimum pledge of $50,” Mr. LaPoint said. The money will go back to Clarkson’s School of Health Sciences to benefit the physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant programs, and to support health education and outreach efforts in St. Lawrence County.

Also at the event will be a craft fair, live music and food trucks. Kayaks and paddleboards will be available to rent at the park. Throughout the day, there will be prizes for best-dressed drummer, top pledge team, top pledge individual and others.

There will be shuttles between downtown Potsdam and Postwood Park. Mr. LaPoint said the pick-up/drop-off site hasn’t been finalized but will likely be the public parking lot on Main Street adjacent to the Clarkson Inn.

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