The Dragon Festival of Saint Paul

The world’s eyes may all be on Beijing in August, but in July in Saint Paul, the Twin Cities will have its own slice of China at Phalen Lake/Park.  On July 12-13, the park will be full of Asian Pacific entertainment, activities, and most importantly, dragon boat racing!  It's time for the St. Paul Dragon Festival!

Dragon boat racing is one of the hottest and fastest-growing water activities to cross the ocean from China to North America.  In this case, twenty-seven teams of 20-24 members each will paddle to the cadence of their own drummer.  The 40-ft-long boats sport elaborately carved and painted dragon heads and tails.  The riders of these beautiful gliding machines will be vying for a chance to be the 2008 champions. 

The sights of and sounds aline will make the trip to Phalen Lake/Park worthwhile on the second weekend of July. Saturday is for practice. Sunday is race day. That’s when things will get serious! 

There is, of course, much more to the Dragon Festival than dragon boat racing!  Food and entertainment will be abundant here as well. 

On Saturday at 11:30 a.m., visitors will be greeted and entertained by a dragon at the "Awakening the Dragon" ceremony. They can watch the dragon being woken up for the occasion; receive a traditional blessing by monks, followed by a Hawaiian dance performance and hula workshop.

Three well-known local culinary professionals will be in attendance Saturday afternoon, demonstrating the intricacies of making curry sauces. Raghavan Iyer, author of the recently published "660 Curries: The Gateway to the World of Indian Cooking," will be joined by Supenn Harrison of Sawatdee (Thai) and Thom Pham of Azia (Vietnamese). Iyer will be happy to sign copies of his cookbooks, which will be available for purchase at the Festival.

On Sunday at noon, a taiko drumming performance and workshop will kick off the performances. Martial arts enthusiasts will be treated to an exhibition of one of the oldest Chinese martial arts form – Shaolin wu gong – at 12:15 p.m. at the martial arts stage.

Hankering for Asian food? You can’t beat the variety at the Saint Paul Dragon Festival! You will have a choice of Chinese, Hmong, Thai or Vietnamese. Can't wait until the State Fair? There's barbecue, mini donuts, corndogs and ice cream as well. Bring a healthy appetite to sample the variety.

But that’s not all!  What would a summer festival be without some great merchandise from area vendors?  From art to silver jewelry to Tibetan crafts to Dragon Festival shirts, there are novelties, gifts, and items to appeal to all ages. 

Additionally, there will be free canoe rides, children activities and on-going demonstrations of sand-painting, cement sculpture, various types of carving, bonsai sculpting, origami and henna art. Representatives from many local organizations also will be on hand to provide information about their services.

If you’re looking for something fun, exciting, and just a little different, St. Paul’s Dragon Festival may just be the place to be!

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