By Natalie Covher
The crowd was fired up to see the Dragon Boat Races, hosted by the Natchitoches Alumni Association, on May 28, 2016. Ten teams of 20 paddlers and a drummer raced each other two at a time across a short stretch of Cane River in front of the downtown riverbank. Among the teams were Swamp Medics and BJACH from Fort Polk, NSU Freshman Connectors, Demon Cheer, Team Late Notice and Purple Paddlers from NSU, A City of Natchitoches team Natchitoches Nightmare, the B.O.M. Squad, Natchitoches Reginal Medical Center and Cane River VIP’s.
At the opening ceremonies, the crowd fell silent for a great rendition of the National Anthem by Grace Brumfield, the lead singer of Kopacetic. It was a special moment shared with the soldiers participating in the races from Fort Polk on Memorial Day Weekend. Team Captains came forward to “awaken the dragons” by painting eyes on the decorative dragon head pieces before they were secured to the boats. “Today is all about having fun,” said Mayor Lee Posey member of team Natchitoches Nightmare.
The Cane River Green Market, food vendors, a bouncer and live music provided much to see and do. Tony Davis of the Chamber of Commerce took full credit for the beautiful weather and thanked each team and sponsors for participating. Teams took turns racing against each other and their times were recorded. After the last race, the individual team’s average race time determined the winners.
“Natchitoches is the best venue for Dragon Boat Races in the state of Louisiana,” said Paramount race director Matt Robert of the Canadian company 22 Dragons. “The waterway is perfect. Bbeing downtown is perfect and the enthusiasm of the teams is off the charts. Louisiana is by far the best state for Dragon boat races because of the sense of community and no one tailgates like Louisianans. I believe this festival could double or quadruple in size by next year.”
Best Dressed: The BOM Squad
Most Spirited Drummer: Reatha Cox
4th place: Swamp Medics 1 minute 3 seconds and 43 tenths of a second
3rd place: BJach 1 minute 3 seconds and 33 tenths of a second
2nd place: NSU Freshmen Connectors 1 minute 2 seconds and 75 tenths of a second
1st place: Natchitoches Nightmare 1 minute 2 seconds and 16 tenths of a second