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Locals to compete in Dragon Boat Fest

— Middlebury and Hinesburg are well represented at the annual Dragonheart Vermont’s Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival held at the Burlington waterfront. The boat teams, including Danforth Pewter, Citizens Bank and NRG Wind, return for the watery action again at the 2011 festival to be held this Sunday, Aug. 7.

The Dragon Boat festival has grown in size over the years. This year’s event will draw the largest group of participants with over 2,000 registered paddlers for the cancer-fighting fundraising races.

Teams typically represents businesses (small and large), local clubs, neighborhood teams, families, and breast-cancer survivor teams.

Festival teams are international. Teams from both the U.S. and Canada are registered and will join Dragonheart Vermont in the day-long community celebration.

The 40-foot-long dragon boats need 20 paddlers and a drummer to slice through the lake water. The sculling-like action is keen on competition and action; it’s a thrill to watch from the shore, too.

“Teams compete for fundraising, speed and spirit with outrageous attire, songs, and chants,” said Linda Dyer of Dragonheart Vermont. “At noon there is the Breast-Cancer Survivor Race followed by a traditional flower ceremony when the breast cancer survivor teams honor those who have died. It all builds up to the Final Five championship races at 4 p.m. to see who will go home with the coveted Citizens Bank Champ Cup.”

Admission is free for spectators. In addition to the races, there’s summer food, live music, song, dancing, children's activities, a raffles—all to benefit the fight against cancer.

“Dragonheart Vermont is proud to have so many outstanding sponsors of our Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival,” Dyer said. “No one steps up the plate more than Citizens Bank, which has served as the official and exclusive Presenting Sponsor of this special charity event for the last six years.”

The boat festival is a green-minded, alcohol- and-tobacco-free event. Donations are welcome and appreciated by event organizers.

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