General Dragon Boat Questions

What is Dragon Boat Racing?

Dragon Boat Racing is a great team sport that has its roots in ancient China. In the last 25 years, Dragon Boat Racing has been revitalized and its popularity has grown like wildfire. It is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world. There are more than 50 million people worldwide participating in Dragon Boat Racing each year. Teams and competitions are currently found in more than 57 nations.

How big is a dragon boat?

Today’s dragon boats vary in size, but essentially are long, narrow racing canoes. The standard racing dragon boat measures approximately 14 meters with the head and tail.

How many paddlers are on a team?

Generally, 18-20 paddlers sit two paddlers per row. This year we are limiting the number of paddlers to 18 per race (BCS Teams are permitted to have 20 paddlers). A steersperson stands in the rear of the boat and uses a long steering oar. A drummer sits on the front of the boat and beats out the cadence of the strokes. For this event, the steersperson, drummer, paddles, life jackets and dragon boats will be provided for you. This is a co-ed event. All teams must have a minimum of 8 women. No all male teams will be allowed.

What are the skill requirements?

This sport is suitable for people of all ages, physiques and fitness levels. But, you must be over 13 to participate. It is one of the most inclusive sports around. There are community, corporate, breast cancer survivor, blind, paraplegic, senior, women’s, men’s, co-ed teams, and more. We regret that the boat can only accommodate a certain amount of weight to function properly, so people weighing over 300 pounds will not be able to participate. Each team will be required to have at least 10 of their paddlers to have attended an on-water practice to compete.

What is the deal with painting the eyes of the dragon?

As a part of the dragon boat tradition, the races begin with the “painting of the eyes.” This signifies the awakening of the dragon and has been done for centuries. This year, the “painting of the eyes” will take place during the opening ceremonies on race day.

What happens if there is bad weather?

This is a rain or shine event. Please check our web site, p4ca.org for any weather or condition updates before you head to the festival. Any changes or delays will be posted on the web site.

Event-Specific Questions

When is the Event?

All day Sept. 7, 2019

Team sign-in begins at 7am. The first race is expected to start at 8:15am. The event ends when all teams have completed their third and final heats in the late afternoon.

Venue Layout

The Paddler’s Village is setup and located in front of the Stage. This will allow for the sound system to cover the area so announcements and race information can be heard.

Rented Tents will be located to the left of the Stage and will be designated for the team which has rented a tent. There will be no tents setup in the beach/marshalling area. This area is now designated as Race Viewing and Marshaling.

On Friday from 1:00pm-7:00pm, Teams will be allowed to set up their tents within a 20×20 space in front of the Stage. There will be designated and marked off aisles that must be kept clear for emergencies.

Vendors who have rented a tent will have it set up in the Vendor Area by 5:00pm on Friday and taken down after the event.

Teams who have Rented tents will all be setup with your team name on the tent by 5:00pm on Friday and taken down after the event.

Where is the Event

A.J. Jolly Park in Alexandria, Kentucky (Operated by the Campbell County Fiscal Court), 1495 Race Track Road.

Accommodations for the Event?

Comfort Inn & Suites
10 Country Drive
Wilder, KY 41076
T: 859-441-3707/ F: 859-441-3726

Reserve Your Room

Why is there a Dragon Boat Race in Kentucky?

The festival and races are sponsored by Paddling for Cancer Awareness (p4ca) and presented by The Kentucky Thorough-Breasts, Kentucky’s first Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Racing Team and the Saddle & Paddle Team. The KTB team is comprised of breast cancer survivors and the Saddle & Paddle Team consistes of supporters from the Tri-state area, who serve as ambassadors for local women in the promotion of women’s health, breast cancer awareness, and the sport of dragon boat racing. The teams race to ensure that the highest level of care, resources and after-treatment programs are available to women in our region. Team members support individuals in their cancer journey and encourage those living with breast cancer to lead full and active lives. The Kentucky Dragon Boat Festival…Paddling for the Pink is the first to be entirely run by Paddling For Cancer Awareness (p4ca) volunteers, the Kentucky Thorough-Breasts Dragon Boat Racing Team, Saddle and Paddle Dragon Boat Racing Team along with help from our sister teams…The Derby City Dragons, Indy SuvivOars, and Mov’n Dragons.

Who benefits from this event?

* Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Women’s Health Centers
* The ongoing mission of the Kentucky Thorough-Breasts, Kentucky’s first breast cancer survivor Dragon Boat Racing team and the Saddle and Paddle team.
* The ongoing mission of Paddling for Cancer Awareness (p4ca)

Can I bring my own food or alcohol?  

No alcohol is allowed at this event. No grills or open flames are allowed at this event.
We encourage you to support our Food Vendors. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. However, if you choose you may also bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages.

What should I bring the day of the event?

* Water
* Sunscreen
* Water shoes or shoes that can get wet, if you are participating on a team
* Folding chairs
* Team Spirit

Can I bring my kids?

Yes! This is a family-friendly event. We do recommend having a guardian with your child at all times.  There is no childcare provided.

How do I volunteer?

We will need a lot of help the day of the event with everything from parking and crowd control, to working with kids and helping people get in and out of the boats. If you would like to help, please go to p4ca.org.

What is the Rose Ceremony?

The Rose Ceremony was started to remember those who have lost their fight with breast cancer. At our festival, we honor those who have battled or are battling any type of cancer by placing flowers in the water.

Team Questions

What is the time commitment?

Although the event is scheduled from 8am–4:00pm, your team’s racing heats will be determined by the start of the day, so you can plan accordingly.

There will be food and other vendors plus entertainment to keep you occupied when you are not on the water or watching the other paddlers.

There is also an on-water commitment prior to the event for 45 minutes. A minimum of 10 paddlers from your team must complete an on-water practice prior to the event in order to compete (if your team has 10 or more paddlers who have competed in a past Kentucky Dragon Boat Festival requirement is waived but you are encourage to practice and get your team back up to speed!).

How do I recruit my team?

Any group of people can be a team: work colleagues, classmates, church members, family, friends and neighbors. You need 25 people to form a solid team. While that may sound like a lot, we find that most teams have no problem filling these slots once the word gets around. You will need 18 paddlers (16 minimum) and 3 – 5 alternates.  More alternates on your team allows for more flexibility and allows team members to swap in and out during the day. A minimum of 8 women are required in the boat for each race. Paddlers must be at least 13 years-old. In addition to the team members, many teams have a team “mom” or “dad” who helps organize team activities, keeps an eye on belongings, helps with snacks and acts as the cheer section.

It is best to appoint a team captain to collect money, schedule practices, and act as the liaison between the festival and the team.

How do I register?

Go to www.p4ca.org and register online.

Does everyone need to sign the waiver?

YES. Each person who will be participating in the festival on the water must sign a Dragon Boat Event Waiver and Release of Liability. This can be done ELECTRONICALLY ONLINE or by downloading the Dragon Boat Event Waiver and Release of Liability and bringing it the day of the team’s on-water practice or the day of the festival. The festival highly recommends filling out the online waiver as this will expedite your time on the water and receiving your wrist bands on the day of the festival.

What is the financial commitment?

The Community Team entry fee is $750. An All Breast Cancer Team entry fee is FREE. Members of the Kentucky Thorough-Breasts or Saddle & Paddle teams may register 1 (one) team for $500. We also encourage teams to raise additional funds to support the cause. Donations can be mailed directly to the Kentucky Thorough-Breasts or you can direct supporters to make secure donations online (see: ”How do I donate”). There will be great prizes for the top team fundraisers. Prizes will be awarded based on total donations received online and turned in by the teams.

What if I don’t have a full team?

You can still race! Partial teams and individual paddlers will be assigned to other partial teams on the day of the race. The fee will be $50 per paddler. If possible, you should still sign up before the race so you can fill out forms and pay your fees. This will save time on race day.

Do I need to bring a tent?

Team tents are not provided with your registration fee. 

You may bring your own tent provided if is not larger than 12×12, or you can sign up to rent a 10×10 tent online at p4ca.org for $40. They are available on a first come first serve basis and will be located in an area different from the non-rented tents.

Will our team have an opportunity to practice before race day?

Yes! Practice days for teams or individuals will be available mid-August. Your team captain will receive a schedule and can sign your team up. Practice times will be first come, first served, so the earlier your team has registered and paid the registration fee and signed up the sooner you can set up your practice. Each team will be given the opportunity to practice 1-45 minute practice session. Each team will be required to have at least 10 members of their team attend this practice session in order to compete (if your team has 10 or more paddlers who have competed in a past Kentucky Dragon Boat Festival requirement is waived but you are encourage to practice and get your team back up to speed!). Additional practices may be available for a fee of $50 if there are practice times available. Individuals can show up on practice days and fill in holes on teams as needed.

How do I donate?

Your team registration covers the costs to put on a dragon boat festival. Proceeds above what it takes to run the festival are returned to the community for Women’s Wellness and the continuing mission of Paddling for Cancer Awareness and the teams it supports. Over $150,000 has been given to Women’s Wellness programs over the past festivals.

Your additional donation helps the festival meet its $50,000 total fundraising goal for this year’s festival. You can make your donation to the overall event or for a particular team online at


or you can mail a check made out to P4CA:

Paddling For Cancer Awareness
P.O. Box 76213
Highland Heights, KY 41076

Please list in the memo section of the check if it is for a particular team or paddler.

How are the races run and winners determined? 

Races are run in heats. Each heat is a 250-meter race and takes just a few minutes. There are three sessions of race heats: morning, late morning and final session. Every registered team will race one time in both the first and second session for a total of two races (heats). Times from their first two heats will be added together to determine the afternoon division races for your third race. Please plan on staying until the end of the day for the awards ceremony.

If this is your first time participating in Dragon Boat Racing, it may seem a bit crazy to see races scheduled every 10-15 minutes. In order to keep things moving, it is extremely important that your team be on time for their “premarshalling” and “marshalling” times.

What if it rains?

This event will take place rain or shine, so please plan accordingly. In the case of severe weather, event coordinators will decide whether or not to cancel the event. If cancelled, the event will not be rescheduled. All fees and donations received will be considered donations to the cause. Please check www.p4ca.org for any weather delays on the event day.

Will I get wet?

At the very least, your feet and lower legs will get wet climbing in and out of the boats. We suggest you wear water shoes or old shoes that can get wet. There is also some splashing involved when you paddle: The amount depends on your skill and the skill (and playfulness) of your teammates.

How will I get event updates?

Your team captain will get e-mail and phone updates. Your captain will be responsible for passing the information on to team members. You can also check out the p4ca.org website.

Vendor Questions

Do I Need A Temporary Food Permit?

Yes…The Northern Kentucky Health Department requires all Food Vendors to have a Temporary Food Service Permit. Click Here for information and to fill out their application.

What is provided?

Your Space! Tables, Tents and other items needed for your space are not provided. You may rent a tent for your use on the day of the festival. Tents are limited and available on a first-come, first paid for basis.

Is Electric Service Available?

Yes, Electric Service is available for an additional $25 on top of your $75 vendor fee. Please bring extension cords. The festival will work to put you as close to the electric service as possible but be prepared to have enough extension cords to reach your space.