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dragon-boatby Kelly Babcock

Listen, let me tell you a story.

Years ago, in China, Qu Yuan, a poet and minister in the government of his state, opposed a decision by the king of the ancient state of Chu to join his kingdom with the kingdom of Qin. As punishment for his opposition, Qu Yuan was banished and accused of treason. Qu's opposition later turned out to be well founded when Qin captured the capitol city of Chu.
In despair, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River.
A much loved and revered poet, the local people rushed to their boats and paddled as hard as they could to try and save him, or at least retrieve his body. This is said to be the origin of the dragon boat race and the start of the Dragon Boat Festival.
The Dragon Boat Festival is now celebrated all over the world, people of all cultures honour the traditions and train and practice to be able to race in these spirited little boats whose souls seem to come alive in competition.
Indeed, opening ceremonies of Dragon Boat Festivals often include a ritual "awakening of the dragons" blessing made by a priest.
In addition to the festival and races, many communities have clubs and groups that paddle for recreation, fun, camaraderie and exercise.
And the town of Owen Sound is home to one of those clubs. The Grey Bruce Dragon Boat Club is an organization that offers space on their boats to club members and community members wanting to see what it's all about.
With a boat in Owen Sound and another on Lake Eugenia, the club has time and a seat for anyone interested in learning the secrets of the dragon.
The Eugenia boat, The Empress, is being launched this weekend. The Owen Sound boat, Pog M0 Thoin, is scheduled to go in on Tuesday evening at six o'clock in the evening.
Paddling will follow, and anyone who shows up will be welcome to try it out, space permitting. Experience isn't necessary, and paddles and life jackets are provided. Canoe paddles aren't used on a dragon boat, but if you have a paddler's PFD you are encouraged to bring it.


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