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story.lead_photo.caption A team gets ready to race at a previous Dragon Boat Festival. Photo by Gazette Staff / Texarkana Gazette.

The Dragon Boat Festival is slated to take place from 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m. Saturday at Bringle Lake.

There are 19 teams signed up to participate in the event, which raises money for HandsOn Texarkana.

"It's very family oriented," said David Carter, HandsOn board president and Dragon Boat Festival director. "The event is free. Parking is free. We'll have food vendors and a kids play area with a slide and stick-on tattoos."

The dragon boat races are very fast-moving, with a race starting approximately every 12 minutes. Dragon boat teams consist of 20 people and a drummer.

"This event gives people an opportunity to enjoy a really neat park and to watch a very unique sport take place," Carter said.

The companies and groups that participate in the race also receive something out of it.

"It serves as a great team-building exercise. You can have 20 of the most buff athletes on the planet, but if they don't coordinate those paddle strokes, they won't win," Carter said. "This gives people a chance to have fun and work as a team."

Prizes for different categories will be awarded at the end of the day.

"The weather forecast is good. It's supposed to be a little overcast so I expect to have a big turnout," Carter said. "It looks like the bad weather will hold off until Sunday."

Extra parking and shuttles will be available at Bringle East in addition to the parking where the races take place.

"People can park in front of Bringle East and we'll be offering a shuttle to get them to the races. It makes it easier to park and ride the bus to the other side of the park where the races are," he said.

This is HandsOn Texarkana's fourth year to put on the Dragon Boat Festival. Organizers hope to raise $30,000 with the event.

"People seem to enjoy it. I think it's here to stay," Carter said. "It's important to our organization because it's our primary fundraiser at this point."

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