Dragon Boat Festival

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

In August I met up with NYC Urban Sketchers to draw the Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The Dragon Boat Festival is an annual event which originated in China. The festival is based off a legend about the poet Qu Yuan who was a court minister & advocate for reform in his home of Chu. He was disliked by the emperor for his outspoken ways and was banished. During his exile, after hearing that his home was invaded, he jumped into the Ni Lo River and drowned himself. Local fishermen tried to save him but were unsuccessful. To prevent his body from being eaten by fish and as an offering to his spirit,  they threw rice dumplings into the water. Today rice dumplings are traditionally eaten on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival which is held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. After the races, it is customary to spend the remainder of the day observing street theatre, martial arts, Chinese dance performances, and other cultural festivities (all while eating rice dumplings, of course).

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

Drawing this event was certainly a challenge, as it was about 95 degrees and there was nary an ounce of shade. Regardless, it was a great experience and I'm glad I went.