Dragon boat races are coming to Natchitoches for the second year in a row. The 200-meter race involves two boats, each containing 20 paddlers and one drummer, racing against each other for the fastest time.
The NSU Alumni Association originated the competition last year as a unique way to raise funds for the annual alumni events. Golf tournaments and galas are normal fundraisers for alumni gatherings, but last year’s race was so well-received that the association hopes its popularity expands in the near future.
Van Erikson, associate director of Alumni Affairs, oversees coordination of the event and views this year’s date as a prime opportunity to get the community involved.
“N-Side View Day and a double-header basketball game will be coinciding with the races too,” Erikson said. “It’ll be a great day for prospective students, current students, alumni and community members.”
The event is on March 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was held on the riverbank last year, but has been moved to Chaplin Lake on campus due to construction.
Spectators can expect to see about 20 races with the 15 teams currently signed up and to hear live music, purchase food and other items from vendors, and play on inflatables from Cane River Waterslides.
Kirsten Bartels, Scholars’ College director, has a soft spot for being on the water but was unable to participate last year.
“I missed the chance last year, so I hope that the Louisiana Scholars’ College is able to participate this year,” Bartels said. “Hopefully we can find a sponsor that is willing to pay for the registration fees for our boat.”
Attending the competition is free, but those wishing to participate must pay $2,100 to register their boat. Many businesses have agreed to sponsor student organizations and groups that wish to participate. Registration closes Feb. 26, and the form can be found at northwesternalumni.com/dragonboats17, along with Erikson’s contact information.