Row Your Boat

The Cuyahoga River hosts a wet and wild race.

Hundreds of rowers paddle their way to the Flats for this weekend’s Cleveland Dragon Boat Festival. And teamwork is crucial, says organizer Michael Ciccarello. “[You’ve got] 20 people paddling together on a 44-foot canoe -- with one person at the bow with a drum, providing the tempo,” he says. “It’s really important you’re all in sync. You have to work together to win.”

Dozens of teams will participate in a series of 500-meter races, which kick off at the Plain Dealer Pavilion today. The Cleveland Rowing Foundation’s Mark Silverstein, who started the event in 2003, says paddling is relatively easy to pick up. “We rented boats from a company in Canada and trained for four days,” he recalls of the initial fest. “That’s all it took.” Landlubbers can get in on the action too. Local Asiatown restaurants and shops will supply food and drinks, while spectators cheer on the boaters. “We’re in a wonderful situation in Cleveland, where there is both a lake and a river, providing an authentic race experience for everyone,” says Silverstein. “It’s a blast -- whether you’re watching or participating.”
Sat., Sept. 1, 11 a.m.; Sun., Sept. 2, noon