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WITH POLL | Dragon Boat Festival back on the water Saturday

by Andrew Bell | June 6, 2022 at 5:34 p.m.
Teams prepare to compete in a past Texarkana Dragon Boat Festival. After a pandemic hiatus, the festival is returning Saturday, June 4, 2022, at Bringle Lake. (Photo courtesy of HandsOn Texarkana)

TEXARKANA, Texas – The Texarkana Dragon Boat Festival is set for Saturday, and HandsOn Texarkana is expecting a good turnout for the event.

The 7-year-old festival had become a mainstay for local residents before being canceled the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event attracted over 10,000 people to Bringle Lake Park in 2019 to watch the races and enjoy the festivities.



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Currently, there are 15 teams signed up, and Executive Director Amy Lemley said HandsOn has done really well with sponsorships.

"We've had a great turnout for sponsorships. We've had a lot of community involvement," she said.

Between the teams, sponsors and vendors, HandsOn typically raises between $25,000 to $30,000 from Dragon Boat to fund the programs their nonprofit offers. That's about a fourth of their annual budget.

"We're well on our way to our goal," Lemley said. "We still have some opportunities during the day for donations and different things that will be going on at the park."

This year's Dragon Boat Festival will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 11 at Bringle Lake Park.

Teams will compete in three races on a 300-meter course, and a variety of awards and trophies will be given out toward the end of the event, including the Golden Gator, the Lead Turtle, best costumes and best decorated tent. There also will be new contests available this year.

CHRISTUS St. Michael is the presenting sponsor.

All registered teams will participate in a scheduled training/practice session between Wednesday and Friday. A pre-party is scheduled for Friday at Bringle Lake West pavilion.

Each team will have a designated area in the Athlete Village and can begin setting up their tents/tailgate area. There will be live music from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, as well as free hot dogs and beverages.

The top four fundraising teams will be included in a special race during a lunch break. The winner will receive a trophy, bragging rights and a free team registration in 2023.

"It's just a really fun event, and it's something different to the Texarkana area," Lemley said. "We're the only ones that do this here. It's a one-day event, and it's an all-day event. Bring your lawn chairs, bring the kids and come enjoy it. It's a true family event, and it's overall great for the community."

(For information, visit or the Texarkana Dragon Boat Facebook page.)

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