Boats that look like dragons will converge on Evansville Saturday morning to compete in the 11th annual Midwest Dragon Boat Festival at the new Deaconess Sports Park on North Green River Road.

What exactly is a dragon boat, you ask? Well, that part is pretty self-explanatory. It's a row boat crafted to look like a dragon, complete with head and painted on scales. A typical dragon boat seats 20 people, 18 of which are responsible for rowing, one captain, and one drummer, who I assume sits in the back and beats a drum to help the rowers stay in sync.

Why is it a thing, and how did it get started? Great question. I didn't know either, until I looked it up.

The tradition of Dragon Boat Festivals began in China as a way, and I'm paraphrasing here, to commemorate the death of the late Chinese poet, Qu Yuan (343 - 278 BC), who was exiled from his homeland after attempting to provide advice to the government during what is known in the history books as "the Warring Period" of Chinese history. After receiving word his homeland had been overtaken by enemy forces, he committed suicide by jumping into the Miluo River. Now here's where the dragon boats come in; upon discovering this, the villagers where he was staying jumped into their dragon boats in attempt to save him, however they arrived too late.

Still with me?

Over the years, the tradition began to be adopted by other countries including the good ol' U-S-of-A, with festivals being held annually in cities across the country, including here in Evansville.

The first festival was held in 2006, and was known as "Dragons on the Ohio". It featured a total of four teams piloting their dragon boats down the mighty, muddy Ohio. Over the years it's gained in popularity, and now features over 20 teams from across the Midwest.

Saturday's event gets underway at 8 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. according to the events official Facebook page.

If you're looking for something a little different to experience, stop by and check it out.

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