Dragons will roar once again as the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosts the 3rd annual Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival in the village on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The free event, which will be held at the Mayor Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park, 101 E. Broadway and the Port Jefferson Inner harbor, is anticipated each year with great fanfare.

The festival is the brainchild of Barbara Ransome, director of operations at the chamber, who attended a dragon boat festival in Cape May, New Jersey, a few years ago.

“This year’s ‘Dragons’ has 32 teams, up from last year of 22,” said Ransome. “We have brought in new Asian entertainment and have configured the layout of the park differently to accommodate all the new team encampments and the entertainment. The event is rain or shine and will lots of great recreational racing competition, where we will be giving out over 300 medals to our winnning team paddlers!”

Opening ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. with Erin and Kiera Pipe singing the national anthem and a performance by the Asian Veterans Color Guard. Buddhist Monk Bhante Nanda of the Long Island Buddhist Meditation Center will hold the Blessing of the Dragon and “Eye Dotting” ceremony to kick off the races and there will be a special appearance of the festival mascot Dragon sponsored by the Harbor Ballet Theatre.

With the first race scheduled at 9 a.m., boat teams will compete in a 250-meter course in four dragon boats provided by the High Five Dragon Boat Company and will include representatives from local hospitals, civic groups, businesses and cultural organizations. Each team will be made up of 20 “paddlers,” one steersman and one drummer. Heats will run all day (all teams will race three times) with a culmination of an awards ceremony at the end of the day.

Spectators can easily view the race course from the park’s edge and pier. In addition to the races, there will be a day-long festival featuring numerous performances including the famous Lion Dance, martial arts, dancing and singing. New this year is the performance of Bian Lian, the art of Chinese mask changing. In addition there will be a performance of the Erhu (a Chinese two-stringed fiddle).

Various Asian delicacies will be offered from food vendors including spring rolls, pot stickers, pork buns, sushi, cold noodles, bubble tea and fried dumplings. There will be many activities for children including the painting of “dragon” eggs, visiting with real dragons, crafts and even a fun photo booth to create a fun memory keepsake!

Adults can try their hand at traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy and enjoy massages and Reiki by the Port Jeff Salt Cave along with chair massages by Panacea Massage & Wellness Studio of Port Jeff.

Sponsors include the Confucius Institute of Stony Brook, LongIsland.com, People’s United Bank, Times Beacon Record Newspapers, News12, ServPro of Port Jefferson, Maggio Environmental Services, New York Community Bank, Stony Brook University, Tritec, Suffolk County National Bank, OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates — Long Island Chapter and Asian-American Cultural Circle of Unity.

Free shuttle buses provided by the Port Jeff Jitney will make frequent stops at the Port Jefferson Train Station, CVS parking lot on Barnum Avenue and the corner of Belle Terre Road and Myrtle Avenue to bring eventgoers to the Port Jefferson Village Center until 5:30 p.m.

Bring a blanket or lawn chair and come enjoy the festivities. For more information, call 631-473-1414 or visit www.portjeffdragonfest.com.


A dragon greets visitors at last year’s festival. Photo by Elyse Sutton
A dragon greets visitors at last year’s festival. Photo by Elyse Sutton

7:45 a.m. Team captains meeting on the Great Lawn at Harborfront Park

8:30 a.m. Opening ceremonies 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Food vendors, crafts, children activities, photo booth pictures, cultural/educational/nonprofit vendor tables

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dragon Boat races in the Port Jefferson Inner Harbor

9 a.m. First races begin

9 a.m. DDKY Korean Traditional Drums

9:30 a.m. Long Island Chinese Dance Group

10 a.m. Sound of Long Island Chorus, Chinese classic, modern singing, dances

10:30 to 11 a.m. Performance by Taiko Tides — Japanese percussion instruments, drumming

11:15 a.m. Performance by the Stony Brook Youth Choir — Peking Opera, Chorus and Chinese Yoyo

11:30 a.m. North Shore Youth Music Ensemble

12 to 1 p.m. Lunch break (no racing)

12 to 12:45 p.m. Parade of the Team T-Shirt Contest and Best Drummer Costume Contest. Location: Show Mobile

12:45 p.m. Authentic Shaolin Kung-Fu Lion Dance, Kung Fu and Tai Chi demonstration

1 p.m. Races continue

2 p.m. Chinese Umbrella Dance performed by Alice and Emily Snyder

2:30 p.m. DDKY Korean Traditional Drums

3 p.m. Bian Lian performance (art of Chinese mask changing) and performance of the Erhu (Chinese two-stringed fiddle)

3:30 p.m. Song Island Performing Art Group

4 p.m. United Martial Arts Center — Japanese Karate and Ninjutsu

4:30 p.m. Performance by Taiko Tides — Japanese percussion instruments, drumming

4:45 p.m. Last Dragon Boat race

5 to 5:30 p.m. Closing ceremonies and awards