Dragon Boat Races

UMKC teams compete in 10th annual China-Kansas City event

Cheer on three University of Missouri-Kansas City teams as they compete Saturday at the 10th Annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival at the Country Club Plaza.

What are Dragon Boat Races?

To foster better understanding between the people of China and Kansas City, the local Society for Friendship with China settled on an activity that would bring people together in friendly competition – a largely-symbolic boat race that will take place again on Saturday, June 14.

The boat race is part of a daylong festival that will go from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the races taking part between 10 a.m. and 2p.m. There will be arts and crafts, food and musical performances, one featuring dancers from Changsha, China.

And just as they did for the first time 10 years ago, when UMKC teams and spectators lined up for the first dragon boat races down Brush Creek, participants will be acting out a 2,000-year-old folk legend surrounding a Chinese poet and statesman named Qu Yuan.

Qu, part of a royal family, was wrongly accused of treason by his king and banished from his beloved state of Chu. After many years, the Chu capital fell to a rival state. To show his disillusionment with the political corruption that had brought this about, Qu waded into the Miluo River to drown himself.

According to the tale, local citizens rushed into the river in their fishing boats to save Qu. With beating drums and great splashes, they hoped to drive away the water spirits determined to carry Qu down. Qu Yuan’s devotion and loyalty are still celebrated the world over by groups racing boats like the fishermen of old.

UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, honorary chairman of the College/University Division, will welcome and introduce teams from UMKC — Beta Theta Pi, Delta Zeta and  Enactus — as well as the Ethnic Enrichment Commission, Great Wall Society, JCCC China Hands, Johnson County Community College, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City Rotary 13, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City Parks and Recreation’s Team, “The Blazing Paddles,” the University of Kansas and Washington University in St. Louis.

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