On Meadow Lake
rush to water's edge, the big race is about to start.
The annual Dragon Boat Races held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park offers a weekend of
sporting events, arts and crafts workshops, live entertainment, and a good opportunity to people
watch. Dragon Boat crews begin training on Meadow Lake as early as March. Throughout
spring and summer oarsmen and oarswomen can be seen most afternoons honing their team
The Dragon Boats slip away from the Boat House dock, head to the south shore of Meadow
Lake, turn and race north to the finish line. Coaches keep pace along side in power boats,
shouting commands to the rowers through megaphones. The course, about a mile long and a 1/4
mile wide, is laid out in the center of Meadow Lake with buoys. The judge's viewing stand sits
about even with the finish line on the lake's western shore, and from there the race is called over
loudspeakers set up throughout the fair grounds.
The festival, a collection of tents, concessions, displays and florid garniture like banners and
balloons is laid out along a half mile of lakefront lawn space from the boathouse to the new
overlook plaza. The area opposite the boathouse has a curving double walkway with narrow
slivers of lawn between and alongside each, bringing the fair and fairgoers into close proximity.
Add to this the bustle of boat crews coming and going from and to the boat house dock, and the
busyness around the judges stand - also placed here - and this portion of the festival seems
extremely lively and awhirl.
The visitor moves from the boathouse section to the main festival section by crossing over a small
concrete bridge spanning the Flushing River, and enters a broad expanse of lawn populated with
tents and a stage. This large lawn space is flooded most of the year and only becomes dry and
usable in mid-summer. The huge open expanse gives the momentary impression of tranquility, but
as the visitor wanders within this tent-city, and people press into the tents with popular activities,
the festival's lively atmosphere quickly reasserts itself.
(Photo at left) The judges stand, the focus of the festival when the dragon boat races take place throughout the day
(Photo at right)The top photo shows a band playing traditional Andes music. Bottom photo shows a musician on the main stage playing harmonica.
The festival is first and foremost a sporting event - the athletes have trained for months to participate in the dragon boat races. But the activity that makes this festival very much a family outing is the very popular arts and crafts community happenings, walk into a tent empty-handed and walk out with an interesting item you made yourself.
People roamed the fairgrounds carrying all sorts of handmade objects, items like kites, jewelry and jeweled flowers were particularly prevalent. There were also a number of exquisite, handmade items on display solely to admire. All in all, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Races Festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the perfect place for a family day out. If you missed the 2006 Festival, make it a point to come this year - it's a unique New York experience.
Many photos above were contributed byDeborah L. Davisof Forest Hills.