The annual cultural festival that takes place at Festival Pier along the Pawtucket River will need to be postponed until next year.
The tough decision to not stage this popular event was made by festival organizers to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Though things are opening up, the RI Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival is confined to Festival Pier along the waterfront. To provide the exciting event fans have come accustomed to, there is virtually no room to allow for adequate spacing of the dozens of teams that come from around the Northeast and thousands of spectators.
“‘Safety first’ is our guidance while enjoying the rivers of Rhode Island,” Blackstone Valley Tourism Council President Bob Billington said. “With COVID-19 still a factor we need to stay extra vigilant.”
Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien added, “while it is very unfortunate that the event has been postponed to next year, I thank the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and the festival organizers for prioritizing the safety of our community.”
The unique style of this race’s boats also created a challenge as the sheer size of these 50-foot and 30-foot vessels make it extremely difficult to move and maneuver with a reduced number of paddlers, which is recommended per dragon boat race guidance.
Matt Robert, race official and owner of 22Dragons, says, “the dragon boats used at the races in Pawtucket are just too big to move properly with the amount of paddlers when considering all current COVID-19 requirements. 22Dragons looks forward to 2022 when full teams can return to the tradition of racing and flag catching.”
The RI Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival has brought the community together and showcased Asian culture to a wide audience. This has never been an event about profit but entirely about cultural exchange. We are all very proud of the long-standing relationship that is held between Rhode Island and Taiwan, and all the individual organizations that work so hard to host the event each year.
“The Chinese community has enjoyed the 20 years of friendship, partnership, and stewardship that has existed with the annual Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival and we are looking forward to an exciting race series in 2022,” stated Louis Yip, race organizer and president of the Luke Charitable Foundation.
Jonathan Sun, director general of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Boston, added, “this has become a grand event in the City of Pawtucket, attracting Rhode Islanders and enthusiastic teams from around the U.S. to participate. We remain committed as a devoted partner to support this meaningful event and to make it even more exciting for everyone.”
All of the organizers and partners are in agreement that the 2022 Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival will be bigger and better than ever.
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