Barrie’s Dragonboat Festival Is One Of The City’s Most Colourful Events

Just As Much Fun For Spectators As It Is For Participants

Barrie Public Library heats up the summer with the annual Dragon Boat Festival. The event, one of the city’s most colourful, is just as much fun for participants as it is for spectators.

The Dragon Boat Festival features a number of returning teams including  “The Geri-Antics” from  Grove Park Home who is looking to capture the title again for the most for the most money raised. Teams race for their favourite charity. CFB Borden has assembled seven teams this year ranging from “Dragon Behind” to the “MIR-audrs”, which also includes members of the community.

“Community groups open up their teams so people who want to take part in the festival can join in – open teams such as Epilepsy Simcoe County,” said  Corrina Degen, special events assistant, for the Barrie Public Library. “We have a couple of new teams of just friends and we also have a lot of corporate teams (made up of employees). There is quite a diverse group of types of teams and people in the festival who have personally connected to the charities they raise money for.”

Teams are required to raise a minimum of $500 to participate. Some donate to the same charity every year while others like to change it up.

Each team consists of 20 paddlers who row in pairs, a steer-person, and a drummer – to keep everyone paddling at tempo and in unison. Teams race four boats at a time in heats, multiple races per heat until a winner is declared at the end of the day. All of the races take place on Kempenfelt Bay and are open to the public to watch.

For Degen, who grew up in Barrie, the Dragon Boat Festival is just one of the many unique things the library is involved in and one of the reasons she is enjoying her summer job there. She has been away for several years acquiring her undergrad in development studies anthropology in Nova Scotia and then traveled to the UK on a youth mobility visa to work. She expects to return there after the summer ends to finish out her two year term and is hoping to stay for more schooling, likely in digital anthropology.

“The most interesting thing working at a library is seeing it beyond a place where you can take books out. This is where I’d come when I was home and hang out,” she said. “It’s a very active and dynamic place – a lot more than people expect.”

The library started the Barrie Dragon Boat Festival in 2003 to strengthen community spirit and raise funds for the library as well as local charitable and not-for-profit organizations.  Since then, the festival has raised more than $1.75 million for Barrie and area charities.

This year’s event takes place on Saturday, Aug. 24 beginning with registration at Heritage Park at 6:30 a.m. An awards ceremony wraps up the day which also features a village with vendors, beer gardens, live entertainment, and children’s activity area. Admission is free.

For more see or call the library at 705-728-1010.

Feature image courtesy of Dragon Boat Barrie via Facebook