Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
July 24-25 at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver
Story and photographs are from the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival’s Official Website
July 25 Full moon information at the bottom of this page.
Colorado Dragon Boat Festival:
Celebrating Colorado’s Asian Pacific American Communities for 10 Years
The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (CDBF) has become, in 10 years, the most recognized and celebrated Asian American/Pacific Islander cultural event in the Rocky Mountain region. From an audience of 15,000 in its first year, 2001, the Festival has grown to over 100,000 spectators from throughout the region. Since inception, it has received many accolades and awards. For example, Westword anointed the Festival “Best New Festival” of 2001. The Rocky Mountain News called it the “Best City Festival” in 2003. And, in 2007, 5280 magazine describes Dragon Boat as “One of Colorado’s greatest festivals…”
There have been other Asian Pacific American events in the Denver metro area, but none with the scope and scale of CDBF. The Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership with partners Denver Film Society and the City of Aurora hosted the Aurora Asian Film Festival, a showcase for recent theatrical films with Asian themes for many years. The film festival is currently on hiatus. The Asian Pacific Development Center mounted Passport to Asia which included Asian American entertainments and vendors. At its peak, Passport to Asia drew 10,000 The Cherry Blossom Festival at Sakura Square has been a Denver tradition for over 35 years. Sponsored by Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple, the still-thriving Cherry Blossom Festival draws 25,000 spectators to celebrate Japanese-American culture, food, music, dance, arts and crafts.
Planning for a dragon boat festival began in 2000. Ding Wen Hsu, then president of the Chinese American Council of Colorado, had heard that John Chin, then president of the Denver Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, was working with Howie Solow, founder and chief instructor of the Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu Association, on developing a dragon boat festival in Denver. She contacted John Chin to discuss collaboration as she was interested in doing such a festival
When the three festival founders met, they found that they shared a common festival vision. All three believed that the festival should be a Pan-Asian event celebrating all of Colorado’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Moreover, they felt that the festival needed to be “community-owned” with local AAPI communities guiding the goals and direction of the festival. They also envisioned three key elements as fundamental to the success of the festival: dragon boat racing using traditional dragon boats; an entertainment stage featuring local Asian Pacific American groups; and a marketplace with the foods, crafts and other merchandise of local AAPI businesses. read more from the CDBF Official Website
One of the ongoing highlights of each year’s Colorado Dragon Boat Festival has been the opportunity to eat your way across Asia and the Pacific Islands — bite by bite. Over the years, Taste of Asia has featured vendors serving up the cuisines of China, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Japan, Hawai’i, Laos, Thailand and oh yes, the good ol’ USA (and Mexico!).