After an eight-year hiatus, the Dragon Boat Festival, an outdoor event celebrating diverse communities in Wisconsin, will take place on September 16 on the Fox River at the Leach Amphitheater in Oshkosh. The festival took place in Oshkosh for ten years before it ceased. All community members in the area are encouraged to attend.
Northeast Wisconsin Chinese Association (NEWCA) president Fanni Xie and co-organizer Greta Lax spoke with Blueprint365 about what they are most looking forward to for this event and why they felt it was important to bring it back after almost a decade.
“We felt obligated to bring this festival back,” Xie said. “First of all, the Dragon Boat Festival is an amazing sport that has been getting a lot of attention worldwide. I think it’s even being discussed to be part of the Olympic games in the future. So there’s hundreds of amateur and very professional dragon boat rowers around America and they travel around to be in the competition.”
Xie added that she is looking forward to celebrating cultural diversity instead of focusing on struggles that marginalized groups face. She hopes this festival encourages people to celebrate different cultures and embrace those with diverse backgrounds.
“We want this to be a celebration that people know,” she said. “The celebration of culture and the work of diversity, equity and inclusion is fun. There’s food and there’s music and there’s the team building part. The other important part is that for becoming a rower in the Dragon Boat Festival, you don’t even need to be a professional. We provide training like a week before.”
In addition to the exciting races at the Dragon Boat Festival, there will also be a variety of activities and entertainment for all attendees. Xie mentioned that she is excited for the plethora of food options that will be available.
“Usually at festivals, when you go in the concession area, what you usually see is burgers, pizzas, and hot dogs,” Xie added. “But this year, this festival, we’re gonna bring something really creative, we’re gonna bring food from all over the world and authentic so people can taste something different and unique in this festival that they couldn’t find anywhere else.”
This year’s NEW Dragon Boat Festival is being hosted by NEWCA, the city of Oshkosh and ColorBold Business Association as a fiscal sponsor.
Lax added that she’s looking forward to continuing the cultural celebrations that the YWCA and UW-Oshkosh started years back. She’s talked with community members who are also elated that the festival is returning and are excited to celebrate.
“They remember the boat race event and are really looking forward to that piece coming back,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the expanded opportunities there to build on that and add the multicultural component to really help foster learning and connection and have fun while doing it. I’m really looking forward to introducing the community more to NEWCA and to the incredible folks who have helped make this event come to be. And to introduce folks to the event itself so we can do even more next year.”
To learn more about this year’s NEW Dragon Boat Festival visit their website or the Northeast Wisconsin Dragon Boat Festival Facebook page