Dragon Boats

Official Dragon Boat Race Information

Festival of the Fox (formerly St. Charles RiverFest)

No Experience Necessary
Team Building Experience at its Finest
All Equipment & Training Provided


What is Dragon Boat Racing?

Coined as the “Ultimate Team Sport’, dragon boat racing is the world’s fastest growing water sport. This 2,500-year old Chinese sport involves 20 team members paddling in unison to a drummer’s beat in a long, narrow boat decorated at the bow and stern with a dragon’s head and tail.

Official Online Dragon Boat Application
Official Festival of the Fox (formerly RiverFest) Online Dragon Boat Application

History Lesson on Dragon Boat Racing

The tradition of Chinese Dragon Boat racing traces its history to the commemoration of a Chinese scholar-statesmen, Chu Wan, who threw himself into the river as a political protest more than 2000 years ago. Revering his apparent sacrifice, the people jumped into boats and raced in vain to his aid, banging pots and thrashing paddles to scare the fish away from his body.

Celebrating his unswerving dedication to a just cause, the Chinese still celebrate with Dragon Boat Festival today by racing specially constructed, multi-person boats that require teamwork and unity to propel across the water.

Dragon Boat Racing is popular throughout the world, was introduced to the Midwest in 1986 by the American Dragon Boat Association of Burlington, Iowa, and came to St. Charles in 1992.

How to Form a Team

Teams are composed of 20 members: 18 paddlers plus drummer and flag-catcher.
Team members must be at least 14 years old. You do not have to be expert paddlers to form a team, but participants should be in good health and physically fit. Most people can learn after one run through guided by the drummer (pounding a large red Chinese drum!) and professional steersman.

The best way to get faster is to improve your speed and efficiency through timing and teamwork.

Open to Teams of All Sorts

Employees, family, friends, clubs, sports groups, schools, neighbors, churches or other associations are encouraged to start a team.

Other Necessities

All participants will be provided with required life jackets, paddling lessons, coaching and expert steersmen. The FUN is included too!

Contemporary Racing

Dragon Boats seat 18 paddlers in nine pairs, plus a drummer to drive rhythm and a flag catcher.  A trained steersman is provided for each boat and sits at the stern, controlling the boat’s direction with an oversized paddle.  The drummer sits at the bow beating an authentic Chinese drum. The race course is approximately 300 Meters (328 yards) with 2 boats participating in separate lanes. Teamwork is key to racing, which takes about 2 minutes per race.

Racers learn proper paddling and timing from the Steersman, so no prior experience is required.

Practice Sessions

Dragon Boats will be available for team practice with coaching and experienced steersman available for instruction. Practice sessions will consist of approximately 30 minutes on the water and will be available for scheduling upon registration.

Team Names

Each team should have a team name reflecting company name or business, the composition of team members or description of those participating.


Race Day Preferences: Teams will be paired based on race day preferences (Sat. or Sun.) in the order entry forms are received. Every effort will be made to accommodate requests, but specific race days cannot be guaranteed. Race times may vary depending on racing results, weather conditions and other factors. Plan on enjoying the whole day at the park!


Each team should provide a team uniform.  Uniforms must consist of matching identical shirts (tees).  Uniforms must be imprinted with team, club or company logo. Teams are responsible for providing their own uniforms.

Team Flags

Each team may bring a 2’ X 3’ team flag on a 5’ pole for display at riverside racing and in team photos. Flag should bear team name and/or logo, club, company or sponsor.

Official Sanctioning

The Festival of the Fox Dragon Boat Races are officially sanctioned by the American Dragon Boat Racing Association, whose officials will supervise
the event. ADBA has years of experience in Dragon Boat Racing in the United States, China, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. Decisions on race results by the Race Chairman are final.

Requirements & Regulations

Teams must supply 20 members in the boat at all times which will consist of 18 paddlers, one drummer and one flag catcher.  4 paddlers must be female and ALL paddlers must be at least 14 years of age. Paddlers under age 18 must have parent/guardian consent.  Team MUST designate captain to attend pre-race meetings. Life jackets are provided and must be worn at all times in boat.

Why Sponsor? Why Race?

The spirited competition of Dragon Boat Racing brings out the best in people whether they are participants or spectators. Sponsors gain name recognition and companies support a great community event. Win or lose, Dragon Boat racing teaches the benefits of cooperation and team unity.

How you can sponsor Dragon Boat Racing

There are many unique ways to sponsor the Dragon Boat Races! Sponsor the races and have your company branded with the event. You can also enter a company team or even become a sponsor for a group seeking to race in the competition.
Contact a member of our Sponsorship Team for details on how we can customize a package to suit your marketing needs.

Awakening the Dragon Ceremony

Opening Chinese Ceremony: “Awakening the Dragon”
Pottawatomie Pavilion dock, Saturday, June 11th, 9am sharp

Come witness a colorful tradition over 2,000 years old! On the first day of racing it is customary to observe this ritual ceremony. See a costumed character re-enact this true story from ancient China, that sparked what is now the sport of Dragon Boat racing! Teams gather with spectators, as the performance stokes the fires of competition for the weekend!


Separate awards for each day’s winners will be presented immediately
following the final race each day: first, second and third places, plus a special “spirit” award for the team that best exemplifies the “Friendship through
Paddling” motto of the ADBA.

Teams are encouraged to bring friends, fans, relatives and co-workers to the races. Food and beverages are available at the race site, but no alcohol is permitted in Pottawatomie Park.

Entry Fees

$175 per team (20 members) for one day of racing.

$325 per team racing both days

$300 to sponsor two teams, each racing one day.

Late entries add $15 per team after May 1

Entry fees include use of boats and equipment for practice session and minimum of two races, plus coaching and an experienced steersman for racing.



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Thank you to our Sponsors

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