Although there may have been 2,000 fewer people gathered at the beaches to watch, the COVID-19-safe mini Penticton Dragon Boat Festival still had plenty of races and fun for the paddlers last weekend.
The entire event was limited to less than 100 people, with the teams spread out across Skaha Park and even the boats themselves seeing social distancing with only 12 paddlers aboard instead of their usual 20.
“We have had teams training here in Penticton for the past couple of months, and it just seemed important to have some sort of an event to cap off certainly one of the more unique seasons of paddling. But it was also important to us to make sure everyone was safe,” said Launa Maundrell, with the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival Society. “We even had to go so far as to limit volunteers to keep the numbers below 100.”
The organizers for the Dragon Boat Festival donated all of the equipment necessary for the races, as well as volunteered their time to put the miniature festival on. Instead of asking for registration fees, the organizers asked instead for donations to the club’s new boathouse fund.
Over $1,000 was raised over the morning of racing.
“I think everybody really enjoyed themselves, the event had all the positive elements of our usual big event – teams were warming up, paddlers were excited to race. It was a beautiful sunny morning, the lake was gorgeous, boats were being loaded and unloaded,” said Don Mulhall, race director for the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival.
“To be honest, it felt a little odd leading up to what we were calling a ‘non-event event.’ You wanted to tell everyone about it, but you didn’t want to attract crowds. In the end, I think the paddlers appreciated the opportunity. It helps strengthen the paddling community.”
Big winners for the day were Penticton Golden Dragons, who won the Mixed Final with a time of 1:58.09; and Penticton’s Survivorship who won the Women’s Final with a time of 1:55.52.
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