The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, a staple summer event in the Denver community, will return to Sloan's Lake Park on July 23 and 24, 2022.
After two years of cancellations due to COVID-19 and toxic algae blooms, the park will be filled with dragon boat races, great food, an Asian marketplace, endless entertainment and thousands of members of the community gathering for a sorely missed annual celebration. Admission to the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is free.
Denver7 is proud to be the local television sponsor of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. Denver7 Anchor/Reporter Bayan Wang will host the 360 Stage at the event on Saturday, July 23 and Denver7 Anchor/Reporter Jessica Porter will host the 360 Stage on Sunday, July 24
“This event had been running continuously for 19 years and allowed people to experience phenomenal culture and food before we had to take a brief, unexpected pause,” said Sara Moore, executive director of Colorado Dragon Boat. “We’re so excited to be back this year and to continue this tradition for the 20th iteration of our event. This summer’s event is going to be better than ever and we can’t wait to continue this work for the next twenty years!”
With more than 40 teams racing, 20+ food vendors, 50+ marketplace vendors, and plenty of performances, the festival is bound to have something for everyone. This fenced-in event is free to attend, but donations are always welcome to support the operations and programming of the 501(c)3 nonprofit.
The official opening of the 2022 Colorado Dragon Boat Festival will take place on Saturday, July 23 at 9:45 a.m. The event will open with Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu parading its 75-foot long, colorful, traditional Chinese Dragon throughout Sloan's Lake Park. The Dragon’s presence symbolizes chasing away “negative energies,” sending good luck, good fortune and a safe day of racing to all of the race teams, vendors and attendees. When passing by Team City, all competitors will line up behind the Dragon and follow as it passes by the Band Stage where each team will be introduced.
After the welcoming addresses, a storyteller will present the history and culture behind Dragon Boat racing followed by a Buddhist Monk and congregation chanting, offering a formal blessing for the event. The Monk, congregation and dignitaries will then form a procession, following the Dragon to the shoreline where a ceremonial purification and “eye dotting” will take place.
Per cultural norms, “dotting” the eyes, nose, ears and so on of the Dragon Boats awakens the boats’ “senses” – sight, smell, hearing… and imbues the boats with the spirit of life helping to ensure a safe day of racing. Stick around after the “Eye Dotting” is complete and watch the 75-foot-long Dragon twist and turn as it performs a spectacular, traditional Chinese Dragon Dance.
Dragon Boat Racing
More than 40 teams will participate in the fast-paced dragon boat racing competition over two full days. The colorful Flag Catching Taiwanese-style boats are back by popular demand, according to event organizers. Each boat will have 18 paddlers, one drummer and one flag catcher. At the finish line, the flag catcher has to lean out and grab the flag to help win the race.
There will also be a Hong Kong style division. On this slimmer, sleeker boat, racers travel faster on the water. Each boat will have 20 paddlers.
Food and Shopping
Festival-goers can satisfy their appetite with culinary delights from all of Asia and the Pacific at the Taste of Asia Food Court. Attendees can also shop to their heart’s content at a Marketplace full of one-of-a-kind arts, crafts and items similar to those found in the open-air street markets all over Asia.
The festival also includes three Performance Stages which will feature traditional and contemporary Asian and Asian-American instrumental, vocal, choral and dance performances by well-known local artists. Past performances have included: Japanese Taiko drumming by Denver Taiko, Halau Kalama, and Indian-fusion dancers, Mudra Dance.
RepresentASIAN through Art
The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is all about representASIAN. Here guests can celebrate the amazing contributions and accomplishments of the AAPI communities right here in Colorado, including the return of live art demos that showcase local AAPI artists in the community. This year will also feature work by Casey Kawaguchi, Ratha Sok, Grace Gee, Bakemono 0504 and the Japanese Arts Network. In addition to live art demonstrations, visitors can enjoy interactive art projects throughout the festival. Festival-goers have the opportunity to create their own Manga to take home, add their own addition to a giant scroll painting, and practice Mottainai by donating empty cans to help create scales for the festival’s dragon statues!
Education and Empowerment
Event organizers recognize that the last two years have been difficult for the Asian American Pacific Islander community due to the increase of hate and racism plaguing our nation. They believe that the best way to combat injustices is education and empowerment. A section of the festival marketplace will host local AAPI nonprofits and organizations so festival-goers can learn more about how they can help and become an ally.
For more information, visit www.cdbf.org.
What: 2022 Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, a family-friendly celebration of Colorado’s rich Asian American Pacific Islander heritage
When: Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Sloan's Lake Park (West Side) – 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, northwest Denver
Cost: Free Admission
Transportation/Parking: We encourage all attendees to use Lyft/ Uber, or bike/walk to get to and from the festival. There is no parking onsite at the park.