New Grand Rapids festival to feature Dragon Boat races

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A new festival is coming to Grand Rapids this fall.

The September 25th Global Water Festival showcases the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids with dragon boat races, paddleboard lessons and flyboard demonstrations, plus food, beer and music in Canal Park.

“We have such a great river,” said Ace Marasigan, a Grand Rapids broker who also serves as the executive director of the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Festival. “We’re just trying to activate the flow so people can enjoy it.”

A big part of the festival is highlighting global cultures.

One possibility is the main event of the festival: dragon boat races.

Dragon boat races are an ancient Chinese custom in which colorful, ornate boats are driven by numerous paddlers. Two dragon boats are being made available for the festival by the South Haven Dragon Boat Association.

The boats can accommodate 10 people: eight paddlers, one drummer and one person who controls the boat. Eight teams will battle for first place throughout the day, Marasigan said.

“It’s just visually entertaining to watch two dragon boat races,” he said, adding that the festival will also try to educate viewers about the place dragon boat races have in Chinese culture.

The festival, which runs from 10 am to 11 pm, will also have food stalls in Canal Park, 941 Monroe Ave. NW, present.

Marasigan said he is reaching out to grocery sellers in the Hispanic, Black, Asian, Polish and German communities. The vendors and the beer tent will be in Canal Park.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. The selection of dishes will give the participants the opportunity to “experience different cultures around the world”.

He added: “It’s a race. It’s a festival. But the reason for this (the event) is simple: We learn more from each other when we share our cultures and hang together more often. “

The event also offers free paddleboard lessons as well as a flyboard demonstration. With the exception of food and beer, the event is free and public. The idea is to activate the flow and make sure everyone can enjoy it, Marasigan said.

“This is a free activation of the flow and a chance for all of us to just come together and just enjoy each other’s company,” he said.

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