Record breaking Bay dragon boat festival

CONSTANCE BAY – The skies threatened all day long, but the water was calm, and it was a record-breaking day for the fifth annual Constance Bay Dragon Boat Festival held last Saturday (Sept. 7).

Luckily, the Ottawa River is running lower than usual for this time of year – it meant there was more room on the beach for the nearly 400 competitors and volunteers taking part in the event’s largest festival to date.

“It’s the biggest ever,” the Ottawa River Canoe Club’s (ORCC) L.A. Schmidt told West Carleton Online on the beach. “It’s an event to pull the community together and introduce them to a beautiful part of the river.”

The ORCC hosts the event along with the Constance Buckham’s Bay Community Association. The festival is meant to be more fun than competitive, but there are trophies for the top two divisions.

“It’s meant to be a fun event,” Schmidt said. “We don’t give out medals.”

Schmidt attributes part of the events success with the move to September that occurred last year.

“This is one of the last events of the season,” Schmidt said. “More than anything it’s another opportunity for the dragon boat community to get together one more time.”

The Constance Bay festival features a 200 metre distance for competitors. Schmidt says 500 metres is typical but this “is a nice distance.”

Schmidt says organizers are buoyed by this year’s turnout and hopes to keep the momentum up.

“The fifth is big and we hope to keep going,” she said.