The Penticton Dragon Boat Festival is well-loved.
Some of the reasons include the job organizer Don Mulhall and his crew, along with volunteers, do organizing it, as well as the venue at Skaha Park.
“You can’t ask for a more beautiful spot for a festival; that is the best part of it,” said Raison, a member of the Despirit Housewives women’s team. “There is room to set up, a built-in beer garden. This is one of the best.”
Raison’s next favourite festival is in Victoria.
Mulhall said the number for the festival is a good indicator of people liking the event.
“I’ve been to a couple of events and people there were just raving about, ‘Oh, we can’t wait for Penticton. It’s our favourite festival of the year. It’s kind of our season wrap up,’” said Mulhall. “We’ve got a really cool venue. Skaha Park is just beautiful. It’s green grass and trees and you are loading and unloading on a sandy beach.”
Eighty-four teams are competing in the women’s, mixed and breast cancer divisions. Raison believes the festival attracts that many teams is for the reasons she loves the race. She and the rest of the Despirit Housewives love the level of competition and that they never know what it is going to be like or where they will place.
“We like to be competitive, and our coaches have been training us to be competitive, but we will have to see what happens,” said Raison. “The entire event, there is such an uplifting feeling. Everybody is supportive. Anybody can dragon boat. It’s the inclusiveness of the sport that I like.”
Penny Seeley of the Peach City Dragons mixed team loves the atmosphere, partially created by the music and supported by the great vendors available. She also likes how often races are scheduled, going every 10 minutes.
“There is always something to watch,” she said. “The venue is spectator friendly.”
Among the cities teams are travelling from are Leduc, Alta.; Edmonton, Calgary, Abbotsford, Richmond, Salmon Arm and Christina Lake.
Mulhall mainly hopes that teams are safe while having a good time in competitive races. He has been constantly monitoring the smoke conditions. Races won’t be cancelled, but the distances could be shortened from 500 metres to between 200 and 250 m. That will help the paddlers breathe in less of the smoky air.
When talking about the numbers, he admits to having a lot of teams. He always claims they will cut the entry number off at 80.
“We’re not very good at cutting off,” he laughed.
The breast cancer field, which includes local Survivorship, is the largest they have had. The celebration for the breast cancer survivors is hoped to start at noon, but he said could be sooner depending on how the schedule goes.