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The Brief History of Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is observed on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. On this day the Chinese people eat rice dumplings and go watch the Dragon boat races.

The Dragon Boat Festival is dedicated to the great poet Qu Yuan (343-290 B.C.). Qu yuan was a minister of the state of Ch'u. He loved his country very much and wanted to make it strong. But the King of Ch'u believed the words of his treacherous advisors and rejected Qu Yuan's plan for making the country rich and strong. Qu Yuan was so disappointed that he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Milo River.

Upon learning of Qu Yuan's suicide, the people rushed to row their boats in search of his body. Accordingly, the Chinese people commemorated this day as the Dragon-Boat Festival. Originally the boats had a very simple appearance, but later on people added dragon decorations to the boats for this occasion.

In memory of Qu Yuan, the people put rice inside of bamboo stalks and threw them into the river as an offering. Later on, to express their admiration and respect for the great Qu Yuan, the Chinese people also designated this day as Poet's Day.

About Kansas City Dragon Boat Festival
In Kansas City, the Dragon Boat Festival carries a new meaning: International cooperation, friendship, and the development of trade for Kansas City, Mexico and China. Our Dragon Boats are gifts from China to "The Society for Friendship for Friendship with China" of Kansas City, Missouri. They became the first shipment and thereby opening a trade route from Shanghai China to the port of Lazaros Cardenas, Mexico and then by TMF/Kansas City Southern Railway to Kansas City, Missouri.

The Society for Friendship for Friendship with China and the Kansas City-Xi'an Sister City Committee would like to designate this festival as the "Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival" and celebrate it every year on the second Saturday of June to enhance Kansas City's culture diversity. Below are reviews of past years of KC Dragon Boat Festival.

2016 The 12th Annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival

Photo by Linda Hanley. Click to see larger view.
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Photo by Dan Paulsen. Click to see larger view.
        
        
        
        
        
        

Photo by Jim Russell. Click to see larger view.
        
        
        
        
        

2015 The 11th Annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Race Results
Community Division
First Place: Indonesia
Second Place: China Hand (JCCC Faculty)
Third Place: Rotary Club 13
College Division
First Place: Beta Theta Pi (Son of the Dragon) UMKC
Second Place: Kansas University
Third Place: Johnson county Community College

Photo by Linda Hanley. Click to see larger view.
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

2014 The 10th Annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival

Photo by Linda Hanley. Click to see larger view.
        
        
        
        
        

Students from the Changsha Dance Vocational School performed on Sunday evening June 15
as part of the post Dragon Boat Festival. A dinner was served & awards given out before the performance.

          
        
        
        
        
        
        
        


2013 The 9th Annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival

          

The Curtain of the Ninth Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival has fallen on June 8, 2013 at the Country Club Plaza. The festival was sponsored and organized by the Society for Friendship with China and the Kansas City – Xi’an Sister City committee. This year’s dragon boat festival was enriched not only by the racing but also by the puppet show on stage given by the puppeteers from the city of Xi An, China. Thousands of people came to the Brush Creek by the Country Club Plaza watching the boat racing and enjoying the good weather as well as the Mayor of Kansas City, Sylvester (Sly) James, City councilmen, Scott Wagner, and John Sharp, Yong Wang, the Deputy Counsel General from Chinese Consulate in Chicago, and the Chinese delegation from Xi An, China.

The festival started with the Girls and Boy Scout’s dragon parade, followed by the opening ceremony at 10 am at the Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, MO. The Mayor, Sly James was the first to greet the audience and the Chinese puppeteer delegation from Xi’an and thanked them for traveling across the world to participate in the Festival. Carol Wei, the Vice president of Kansas City-Xi’an Sister City Committee presented a gift to the Mayor. Yong Wang, Deputy Council General from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago addressed the audience. He praised Kansas City for supporting the Dragon Boat Festival, a traditional Chinese festival with long history in China. He also praised the sponsor and organizer for promoting Chinese culture in America and for helping the culture exchanges between China and America. Juli Yang, the head of the Chinese delegation expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the Festival. Scott Wagner and John Sharp, City Councilmen also vowed their support to the Dragon Boat Festival.

          

Live Interviews by FOX 4

      
Photo by Dan Gilbert

The news station, FOX 4, interviewed representatives of Xi’an sister City Committee, live by the Brush Creek on June 7, 2013. Paul Lillig, Tom Hanley, Mary Edith Lillis, and Heidi Downer received interviews and talked about the Dragon Boat Festival in general and the Kansas City’s event in specific before the festival began in the morning. They told TV audience what was going one, when the event would begin, and why they should come out. They also showed TV audience the racing boats to promote this year’s Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival.



Photo contest winner, Natalie A. McMullin

2012 Kansas City Internation Dragon Boat Festival

2012 was the best Dragon Boat Festival we have ever had. The weather was wonderful. The college teams were very enthusiastic and took coaching well. Everyone had a chance to be successful on the water. Kudos to every one. We count this as a huge success.
Many thanks to these individuals:
Jan Armstrong, Don Breckenridge, Joyce Cox, Marcia Cooper, Chris Graham, Dan Gilbert, Linda and Tom Hanley, Jim Hill, Carolyn Kadel, Jan Kennedy, Paul Lillig, Mary Edith Lillis, April Mccrary, Heather and David McKinley, Melinda Minks, Leo Morton, John Phillips, Diana Tinnin, Scott Wagner, Barbara Williams, Marti and Jim Wilson, George Yadrich and Lin Xu
 
We also want to thank these groups:

Families Blessed with the World’s Children
Edgar Snow Foundation
Kansas City Art Institute
Kansas City Chinese Association
Kansas City Parks and Recreation
Kansas City Rotary Club 13
2012 Dragon Boat Teams
City of Kansas City
City of Xi’an

Kansas City Parks and Recreation
Rotary Club 13
Johnson County Community College
Kansas City Art Institute
Kansas State University
Kansas University
UMKC Beta Theta Pi Fraternity
UMKC Delta Zeta sorority
UMKC SIFE Club
2012 Race Results

College Division

- UMKC SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise club) won first place and a $1,500 Scholarship
- Johnson County Community College International Club won second place and a $1,000 Scholarship
- K-State and UMKC Delta Zeta tied for third place and won a $500 scholarship each

Civic Division

- Rotary Club 13 beat out Kansas City Parks and Recreation for the Business Championship
- The Kansas City team beat out the City of Xi’an team

Photos by Natalie A. McMullin, Jim Russell and Jeremy Vrentas


UMKC Chancellor Morton has honor of traditional Waking the Dragon ceremony.

2011 Kansas City Dragon Boat Festival

Brush Creek at the Country Club Plaza was alive with dragons on Saturday, June 25. The Kansas City - Xi’an Sister City Committee and the Society for Friendship with China celebrated the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival with parades, stage performances and Dragon Boat races. An early light rain turned into a sunny day of fun and competition for adults and children alike.

After the wandering dragon arrived at the stage, Master of Ceremonies John Phillips started the festivities. He introduced Kansas City Mayor Sylvester James and University of Missouri at Kansas City Chancellor Leo Morton, who performed the traditional ceremony, Opening of the Sleeping Dragon’s Eyes. An audience of approximately a thousand followed them down to the creek to begin the races, while stage performances began on the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Show Wagon.

We wish to thank Silk Road Dance Academy for the young adult dances, Lily "ZhangLi" Taylor Dance School for the children’s dances, the dragon, lion and drum dance, from the Kansas City Drum Roller team, Master Chun Man Sit Southern Kungfu School for the Martial Arts displays, parade drum by Daniel Roy’s team and the yoyo performance by Nate Falke.

John Phillips turned over the microphone to Fang Shen, Society for Friendship with China Board Member, for performances of Lion, Dragon and folk dances by various children and adult groups. Dances offered a representation of cultures of the fifty-five government recognized ethnic minorities living in China today. The annual Dragon Boat Festival actually memorializes the beloved poet and statesman Qu Yuan, who threw himself in the Milou River to drown, and people’s attempt to rescue him from the fish and the water dragon at the riverbed.

Nine teams in two divisions used four Dragon Boats to race two at a time down Brush Creek from the dock west to the dam and back, each colorful rowing crew kept steady by a drummer up front and straight by a rear rudder person. Scheduled heats among the corporate and college divisions ran from 10 AM to 2:30pm.

The team from Kansas City Parks and Recreation department won the corporate division trophy, over Sprint and Rotary Club 13. The International Club of Johnson County Community College prevailed over teams from KU Medical Center, the University of Kansas at Lawrence, Kansas State University, Beta Theta Pi at UMKC and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) at UMKC.

Money raised by the Dragon Boat Festival is used to support three schools outside the Xi’an China school district. A $30 donation covers all costs of materials for one student for one year.

Financial Assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. This project also is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund of the City of Kansas City, Missouri.

Marcia Cooper

Photos by Qian Rong, Jim Hill and Linda Hanley

The 5th Annual Kansas City Dragon Boat Festival

The 5th annual Kansas City Dragon boat Festival was held on Saturday, June 13, 2009. As before, the festival was held at the southeast corner of the County Club Plaza. We started in the morning with activities for children and Chinese entertainment. Dragon Boat racing occurred in the afternoon. The 2009 schedule featured Wishes for sale $5 each, children’s activities, food sales and souvenir booths, cultural performances, Wake the Dragons Ceremony (including the official delegation from Xian, China,) Dragon Boat Races on Brush Creek, and a splendid evening launch of the colorfully lit Wishing Lanterns onto Brush Creek.

Sponsors in 2009

  • The Society for Friendship with China, Inc.
  • Kansas City Parks and Recreation
  • DST Systems, Inc.
  • Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund
  • Kansas City-Xi’an Sister City Committee
  • Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club
  • KCCA


Paper Dragon Boat
Made by Jinsong Zhang

2008 Kansas City Dragon Boat Festival

On July 26, 2008, the 4th Annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival was completed and successful, except the cancling of Dragon Boat Race due to the weather. Kids Dragon Boat Racing was a very good addition to the kids activities this year.

Below are some pictures from that day. Please click on image for a larger view.


2006 Kansas City Dragon Boat Festival

The Review of 2006 Kansas City Dragon Boat Festival

On June 10, 2006, the 2nd Annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival was completed and very successful.

The Ceremony began with Mr. John Phillips, Vice President of The Society for Friendship with China, introducing Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks of Kansas City, who delivered opening remarks. Mr. Phillips told the audience that the Dragon Boat Festival is to raise funds and make all community members aware of our Society's major project: to build a Chinese Garden in Swope Park in the near future.

The culture performances began with lion dance by Randy Li's School of Wing Chun followed by dragon dance by Tai Chi Studio and folk dances performed by KCCNA dance team. Other local groups and individuals joined the celebration as well. Attendance is estimated at about 500 people.

Three teams competed in the Dragon Boat races. Two races were first held and the winners of the first two races competed in the final. The Sheraton team rowed against the better rested but average 20 years' older team of the Plaza Rotary Club to fight for the champion. The Plaza Rotary drew upon their experience of last year and won the final. It is estimated that over 600 people watched the races.

An award banquet held at Bo Lings was attended by all contestants and the event planning committee members.

Below images are taken by Dan Gilbert during the Festival. Click on the image for a larger view.


The Trophy for the winning Dragon
Boat Racing Team in 2006

L to R: John Phillips, Bob Chien,
Mayor ProTem Alvin Brooks

Site view

Dragon Dance

Chinese folk dance

Dragon race

Audience

An award banquet held at Bo Lings

Gave trophy to winner

Award Banquet

2006 KC DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL SPONSORS


Kansas City Parks and Recreation



DST Systems


Missouri Arts Council


Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club

City of Kansas City, MO



M & I Bank



Sheraton Suite on the Country Plaza



Tai Chi Studio

2005 Kansas City Dragon Boat Festival

Hosted by The Society for Friendship with China, Inc., the 1st Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival was held on June 11th, 2005 at the Cafe Corner of Countryside Plaza. Although Dragon Race couldn't be started as planed on that day because of the thounder storm, all other related activities such as Cultural Stage Performances, Dragon Dance and Lion Dance were successfully held after raining. Over 700 people joined the festival.

Organized by KCCNA (Kansas City Chinese Network Association, which now is named KCCA), Cultural Stage Performances included Chinese folk dance, Chinese music and songs, Martial arts and Chinese traditional costume show etc. Wonderful performances won the prolonged applause from audience. Special festival food - Zhongzi and other chinese food were provided during the festival, and Zhongzi was very welcome.

Dragon Race was made up on July 16th, 2005. Total three teams joined the race, and The Plaza Rotary won the first place.

Starting this year, Dragon Boat Festival will be held on the second weekend in June annually, as an official festival reserved for KC people.

Click on the image for a larger view.


Chinese Xinjiang Dance

Chinese Folk Dance

Chinese Martial Arts

Chinese Folk Dance

Dragon Boat Race







2005 KC DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL SPONSORS


Kansas City Chinese Network Association


Kansas City Parks and Recreation


Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club


Missouri Arts Council



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