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Dragon Boat Festival

Story: Sandra Beynon | Photo: Bruce Redman
Published On : May 25, 2021
Dragon Boat Festival
If you suddenly see dragon heads on the horizon at Clontarf, it's not a Viking invasion, it's a traditional Chinese celebration, with the Dragon Boat Festival set to take place this month at Pelican Park.

Multicultural Queensland Social Network secretary and honorary and founding president of the Brisbane North Chinese Association Carl Wu said there was a lot of history behind this festival.

The festival commemorates the death of poet and minister Qu Yan, who was much-loved by the people, Carl said.

He lived about 2500 years ago in the ancient state of Chu. When he found himself on the wrong side of politics, he was accused of treason and exiled by the Qin rulers.

Twenty-eight years and a lot of poetry later, Qu drowned himself in despair when his home city was captured by the Qin rulers.

When the locals tried to retrieve his body from the Miluo River, they couldn't find it," Carl said. "So the villagers took to dropping balls of sticky rice into the river so the fish would eat them instead of Qu's body - a little history of zongzi, right there.

Moving to the present time, the dragon boats at the festival are imported from China and belong to the Brisbane Typhoon and Sandgate and Redcliffe Dragon Boat clubs, whose members come from diverse backgrounds.

We are inviting families to come and have a go at paddling the dragon boats before the competition starts, Carl said. The beating drums are a great way to spur people on to paddle harder and faster.

A range of family games, multicultural performances, a variety of stalls, archery demonstrations, kids activities, and a jumping castle will make up the day. You can also try your hand at zongzi (rice pudding) wrapping and then watch the pros in action.

The Brisbane Buddhist Association will provide free vegetarian food.

Dragon Boat Festival
Sunday, 20th June, 2021
Pelican Park, Clontarf
9.30am to 3.30pm
Official Dragon Boat competition
starts at 10.30am