If you’ve made it to the Sparta Dragon Boat Festival, you know it’s an amazing time for everyone involved! But do you know that this event has a long, rich history? Keep reading for some fun facts!

Mixed Origins. While historians find that dragon boat festivals have existed for about 2000 years, there is some debate on where they got started. In fact, hundreds of origin stories exist! However, most have a common plot: a hero, warrior, or beloved warrior is lost to a watery grave. The surviving community comes together to try to rescue this person, sending out boats and paddling vigorously at the water, and bringing along drums to make more noise. Once the hero is pronounced dead, the same tradition continued to honor his (or her) memory. In China, this is usually celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month—when it might still be snowy in New Jersey!

Modern Celebration. Today, the Dragon Boat Festival is still enjoyed in Asia and has spread throughout much of the rest of the world as a cultural appreciation holiday. Cities across America have started their own Dragon Boat Festivals, incorporating ancient traditions and building upon those with their local community flavor. Just like the Sparta Dragon Boat Festival, most of the American festivals are held in the summer when the weather cooperates. Just like the traditional festivals of old, the most popular activities at the festival include watching the dragon boats, eating traditional food, and enjoying beverages.

The Sparta Dragon Boat Festival. We like to think our dragon boat festival is special because it does all of these things while giving back to Sparta’s youth! Every registration for the boat race, sponsorship, donation, and some proceeds from sales get returned back to the Sparta Education Fund, supporting local schools.

Ready for a fun summer activity? Then register for the Sparta Dragon Boat Festival today!