Dragon Boats

2017 Dragon Boat Races

Experience Dragon Boat Racing on the Fox River, in St. Charles, IL
No Experience Necessary
Team Building Experience at its Finest
All Equipment & Training Provided

Experience Dragon Boat Racing on the Fox River, in St. Charles, IL

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.

2017 Dragon Boat Application
2017 Online Dragon Boat Application – Registration is Now Open Please Click here for more information!

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, 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!

VINTAGE MARKETPLACE Vendor Applications Due
Apr 30 all-day
VINTAGE MARKETPLACE Vendor Applications Due

Be sure to download and complete your Vintage Marketplace Vendor application as soon as possible. Space is limited. Full details on the application, which you can find here.

Festival of the Fox
Jun 8 – Jun 11 all-day
Festival Kickoff Concert in Lincoln Park – Gregory Hyde @ Lincoln Park Pavilion
Jun 8 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Festival Kickoff Concert in Lincoln Park - Gregory Hyde @ Lincoln Park Pavilion | St. Charles | Illinois | United States

Gregory Hyde, Entertainment Director for Festival of the Fox, is also a fantastic musician. He is going to be kicking off a weekend of great St. Charles Family Fun with a concert in Lincoln Park on June 8th.

Click here to learn more about Greg’s music.

Please plan to arrive early for this concert.

You may also want to pickup one of out Dragon Logo beach blankets to make your visit comfy. You can do that on our shop page – but hurry, supplies are limited. We will be onsite to hand out blankets purchased using the “Will Call” option.

Click here to purchase your blanket.

Lincoln Park Gazebo is located on Main Street between 4th and 5th Streets.

Bring your family and friends for a picnic in the park! Settle in before the concert and enjoy picnic-style offerings at reasonable rates from downtown St. Charles restaurants and local vendors including Kimmer’s Ice Cream, Jersey Mikes and Domino’s Pizza. Alcohol is not permitted at Lincoln Park. Guests are encouraged to get to the park early for better seating. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets, too.


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 10th, 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

$475 per team (20 members) for one day of racing.

$825 per team racing both days

$1000 to sponsor two teams, each racing one day.

Late entries add $50 per team after May 1, 2017

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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