• Opening Ceremonies with the Young Marines of Pensacola
  • Children’s Area and Vendor Booths Open All Day
  • Team Captains CheckIn
  • DJ will play music
  • Dragon Punch and Beer will be available for a donation throughout the day

Official Race Schedule to be announced the week leading up to the event.

  • Lunch Break for racers
  • Racing continues
  • Championship Race

5 pm

  • Closing ceremonies


  • Face Painting
  • Coloring
  • Corn Hole
  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Sidewalk Chalk
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Before you get into the dragon boat and experience the thrill and fun of paddling, safety should be your number one priority. The list below provides some suggestions to help you and your teammates not only to have fun but to be safe.

Each team member is responsible for his or her own safety at all times while engaging in activities related to practicing and racing in dragon boats

The steers-person is in charge of and responsible for your boat at all times. His/her commands must be obeyed to ensure everyone’s safety

Always listen to your steers-person for directions, even if you hear “hold the boat” and you are in the middle of a race

A buddy system is used in the event of a medical emergency or capsizing

Dress appropriately

Take a bottle of water with you

Apply proper sun protection, and/or wear a hat

Stretching and moderate exercise is advisable before paddling

The team should review the paddling commands with the steers-person

The steers-person will communicate the safety and emergency procedures with the team before going out

Two people on each team should have whistles attached to their life vests for use as a warning signal in case of emergency

All paddlers must wear an approved life jacket at all times while on the water (PFD – Personal Floatation Device). A PFD will be provided for each paddler

After your practice, please return your paddles & PFD to the designated area

If you are a non-swimmer, you should inform your Team Captain, and you or your Captain must inform the steers-person, drummer, and your buddy

Your Captain should know the paddlers’ weights and balance the boat accordingly

Loading procedure should be done row by row – first port side, then starboard side. The recommended process is middle rows first. Listen for the steers-person and/or drummer before getting in or out of the boat. Only one person should be getting in or out of the boat at a time

Once loaded, the steers-person should remind the paddlers about the buddy system and ask them to identify their buddy

For unloading, repeat the loading procedure backwards

To be able to control the boat and avoid collisions, all paddlers must know the paddling commands

The commands should be reviewed with your steers-person at the dock each time you go out

Commands: Hold water (paddle in the water to stop the boat), let it ride (stop paddling and rest the paddle on your lap), and back paddle

Usually the drummer will give the commands, but commands from the steers-person need to be followed and take precedence at all times

To help maintain boat stability, make no sudden moves in the boat. According to the Rules of the Bayou, there are times when boats must continue to paddle (unless doing so would cause a collision):

Paddling up and across the Bayou

When returning to the docks (or anytime when approaching a stationary object), always keep hands off of the boat gunwales. Failure to do so may result in serious injury to your fingers or hand if they are trapped between the boat and the stationary object

Maintain hydration by drinking fluids before getting into the boat and during those times when your boat stops for any reason

Paddling for 300 meters is not easy and can be exhausting. If you need to rest at any time, then do so. Take your paddle out of the water and hold it up above your lap while you rest.

Paddlers should restrict talking in the boat. They need to pay attention to the directions given by the drummer and steers-person. The noise makes it difficult for other paddlers to hear the directions. In addition, the drummer and steers-person must be able to communicate effectively from the bow to the stern of the boat.

When on the water, help can be a long way off. If someone should have a heart attack, stroke, or other medical emergency, it is imperative that everyone remains silent as the steers-person gives directions.

Dragon boats can capsize

Unless otherwise instructed, paddlers should stay with the boat, hold onto it, do not try to swim to shore, and wait until help comes

You must follow the directions of the steers-person and rescue personnel. The steers-person will remain in charge of the team until rescue personnel arrive. Once the rescue boat has arrived, they are in charge

Use a buddy system. Your buddy is the person sitting beside you in your row. The paddlers in the first row (row 1) of the boat are also buddies with the drummer, and the paddlers in the last row (row 10) are buddies with the steersperson

If you find yourself under the boat, there will be an air pocket available for you to catch your breath and get your bearings. Feel your way to the side of the boat and then surface on the outside

Locate or call out for your buddy and be sure he/she is safe

If other paddlers are injured or have difficulty reaching the boat, give them assistance and make the rescue boat aware of the situation

The Launch Driver will take a head count

If the boat capsizes, it may not right itself. The Launch Driver will determine if anyone is trapped under the dragon boat, and act accordingly

If the dragon boat is upside down after capsizing, the Launch Driver may ask the team to help roll the boat to its upright position. Before that can be done, all paddlers must be accounted for. A strong swimmer may be asked to swim under the boat from one end to the other looking for paddlers

People shouting and making noise will cause confusion. In the event of an emergency, every paddler has to be ready to follow instructions

Some excerpts quoted from the Canadian Community Dragon Boat Association Safety Protocol and Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival Official Rules.


Below are some maps with race day details. Click on them to enlarge.