By Nick Wojton, contributing writer
OSWEGO, NY – For the second time in as many years, the Oswego Dragon Festival filled Breitbeck Park on Saturday with boats, music, and drum beating.
The long dragon boats raced along Lake Ontario’s waters while fundraising for the Oswego YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign.
Racing began at 9 a.m. with the final race happening around 3 p.m.
Teams consisted of 20 paddlers to row the 40-foot long boats on a 200m course. Along with paddlers a drummer and someone to steer were also inside boats.
Bob Klose, a member of the Lake Effect Lizards and employee at the nine mile point station, said the festival was a great experience for his team.
“We enjoy the competition, team spirit and gathering,” Klose said.
In his second year paddling, Klose said the turnout for this year’s event grew from last year.
“It’ll be great seeing it continue to grow,” he said.
This year’s event featured 32 teams total, 10 of which were corporate sponsors, 16 community not-for-profit teams and six student teams.
Mindy Farnham, a student rower for the SUNY Oswego Lifestyles center team, said that despite it being fun, the rowing did get a little difficult.
“The toughest part was towards the middle as people started to get out of sync,” she said. “With a race that’s only 200 meters you don’t have time to fool around.”
Each team set up a team tent as their “headquarters” inside Breitbeck Park.
Along with the team tents were food vendors and music. Kids were able to keep busy in “Dragonland,” which consisted of face painting, karate demo, ParKour Demo, air hops and crafts.
Teams were allowed a practice run before the event to get accustomed to the boats, which were provided by the YMCA along with paddles and life jackets.
“It’s a party in the park for a good cause,” Klose said.
Dragon boats are an ancient Chinese boat which is believed to originate 2,500 years ago.
“With so many people pushing for one goal, it’s hard not to bring people closer together,” Klose said. “It’s a great team builder.”