Dragon Festival


Last weekend was my favorite event of the year: the Dragon Festival. It’s held every year on Lake Phalen. As I’m sure you can see from the sign, it’s intended to celebrate Asian culture. I love seeing the performances, seeing the kind of people who show up, the smell of the food, and the atmosphere is great. It feels much more inclusive than events like the Hmong Soccer Tournament or Hmong New Year.

My favorite part: the boat races. A bunch of teams get in these boats shaped like dragons and paddle against each other. All day long you can hear the sound of drums echoing across the lake as someone keeps time for the rowers. If you get close enough you can hear them shouting out numbers to help keep time. You can see someone reach out from the dragon’s head, mounted on the front of the boat, trying to grab the winning flag. Some of the cockier boats will paddle in toward shore to soak up the cheering from the crowd watching.

This is my second year participating in the dragon boat races. My friend works for the Cub Foods near Lake Phalen, so they put in a team every year. They’re usually a couple people short, so my friend invited me. It’s so thrilling to be out there on the water. After the first few strokes you can feel the boat slip higher in the water and start to glide. Right when your arms get so tired you don’t think you can go anymore, the person wrapping his legs around the dragon’s horns reaches out and grabs the flag. Taking in deep breaths you hold up your paddle and cheer. Thrilling.

Our team placed 5th. I’m told if it hadn’t stormed in the afternoon, thus cancelling races, we might have placed higher. 5th is pretty good, especially when we did our morning race with two less rowers than all the other teams. What’s more is our picture was on the front page of the paper! Exciting. I always feel so accomplished after racing.

My one regret about the event was that I missed the lion dance. And I missed my friends’ performance of Soran Bushi. I was rowing during those times. When I think I won’t be in the country for next year’s Dragon Festival, and that I won’t be able to see any of it, it makes me just a little sad.

At the Dragon Festival, there are booths promoting many things. One of them was for the CHAT festival, a Hmong art festival that happens toward the end of summer. Sitting on the booth they had CDs for sale. I was happy to find the CD of a Hmong hip-hop group I’d seen at the CHAT festival last year. Hilltribe. I think they have a lot of potential. Check them out!

When I’m in Japan, I’m going to listen to “Minnesota Corollas” when I feel homesick.


~ by megumiwasframed on July 13, 2010.

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