The Barrie Dragon Boat Festival is still a few weeks away, on Aug. 25, but if you’ve been down at the waterfront any night this summer you’ve likely seen teams practicing out on Kempenfelt Bay.
The Barrie Public Library has hosted the festival since its inaugural year in 2003, raising money for more than 60 different charities in Barrie and area. Like many of the waterfront festivals, it’s a community event with something for everyone.
Each year Moore Packaging donates a cardboard craft for the Kids Village, which offers activities and face painting for the little ones.
The Vendor Village has food trucks and snacks, local vendors, along with a large beer garden featuring craft beer from Redline Brewhouse and cider from Heritage Estate Winery & Cidery. Starting at 11 a.m., when it opens, the beer garden will also host live performers throughout the day.
And of course, people of all ages come out to watch the dragon boat races. Each race lasts around two-and-a-half minutes from start to finish and they run from 8 a.m. to around 4 p.m. It’s an amazing thing, watching 20 people paddle in unison and taking a boat from a complete standstill to a blazing finish over the course of 300 metres.
“The library is proud to host this festival every year,” said Christopher Vanderkruys, Barrie Public Library business and development director. “There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in the months leading up to it, but it’s always worth it when you see it all come together and the smiles on everyone’s faces. We are thrilled to be able to help out the community in this way each year and help support other charities.”
Over the past 15 years, the Barrie Dragon Boat Festival has raised more than $1.85 million for charities in Barrie and area. Teams are required to raise a minimum of $500 for their charity of choice, but many go above and beyond. Ask any of the teams and they will likely have a strong connection to the charity they’re supporting.
In 2017, The Geri-Antics raised $23,400 for Grove Park Home.
“The Barrie Dragon Boat Festival is very important to us,” said Linda Muszynski, Grove Park Home fund development manager. “Not only is it an incredible fundraiser for Grove Park Home, but it brings together staff, family, friends, volunteers and business partners to make an awesome team. Festival day is a ton of fun. We don’t win a lot of races, but the community feeling is something really special.”
Visit barriedragonboatfestival.com to learn more about the Barrie Dragon Boat Festival and how to get involved.