Lake Arlington will once again be the site this Saturday for one of the summer's most colorful and fun events -- the Walgreens Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival Presented by PepsiCo.
Dragon boating is the world's fastest growing water sport, where 20 paddlers move in unison, combining strength with teamwork in a boat whose elaborate design originates in ancient China.
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Part of the proceeds from the event will be donated to SALUTE, Inc., a suburban organization dedicated to veterans and veterans' families.
Races will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 26, and continue throughout the day to about 4:30 p.m. Admission for spectators is free. Activities will be held on the south side of the lake, at 2201 N. Windsor Drive.
The event has grown to incorporate many activities for all ages. Saturday's festivities are free to the public and include the opportunity to watch more than 35 dragon boat teams from across North America compete in colorful ornate boats and be immersed in the culture of the sport.
The Walgreens Health and Wellness Village, a festival staple will feature products and services geared toward a healthy lifestyle. Meanwhile, aSceneChicago.com is presenting the Asian Cultural Village with multicultural performances throughout the day. The Kids Zone offers activities, games and fun for children.
Mobile food vendors will be on site -- Toasty Cheese food truck returns to the festival for the second year, alongside newcomers Starfruit Café Truck and Grill Chasers.
The festival is run by GWN (Great White North) Dragon Boat, at www.gwndragonboat.com -- North America's largest full-service dragon boat event and production company contracted to over 30 annual festivals in the US and Canada.
Each boat carries a maximum of 20 paddlers, with a steersperson (cox) and a drummer. Teams competing as a mixed crew have a minimum of eight female paddlers. Synchronicity is more important than strength -- a perfectly synchronized team will almost always beat a stronger, but less coordinated team.
For information about dragon boats and Great White North, call (847) 577-3059. For information about the 2013 Dragon Boat Races, check www.ahpd.org or call (847) 577-3059.