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Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race

The Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race is an annual cultural event hosted by the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association (PKSCA) that is held in early June as a sanctioned event of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation. The event features as many as 96 dragon boat teams from all over the world who race in Taiwan-style dragon boats. There are three divisions: Mixed, Women, and High School. The race is held on the Willamette River located at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland.

Race History

1989 was the first year of the Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race. In that year, there were 31 teams registered. In 1991, the event had grown to 60 teams competing. Currently there are approximately 70-90 teams competing annually. The PKSCA owns eight Taiwan-style dragon boats; each boat accommodates 20 paddlers, 1 tiller, 1 caller, and 1 flag catcher required for each race heat.

The Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race is unique in that local teams have a 10-week practice season in preparation for the June race weekend. This 10-week practice season has contributed greatly to the growth of this sport in the Pacific Northwest. This race is also unique in that each team’s flag catcher is required to pull the flag from a buoy in that team’s lane which is what signals that the team has finished the race heat.