SOLOMONS, Md. — Last weekend was a fun and full day at the 5th Annual Dragon Boat Festival in Solomons, Md. The festival is the largest annual fundraiser for Southern Maryland Community Resources, a private nonprofit group creating events and opportunities for community members with developmental differences.

Saturday’s events kicked off at 8:00 a.m. with a Parade of Teams meeting at the Gazebo along the Solomon’s Island River Walk. The opening ceremonies began at 8:30 a.m. with a Presentation of Colors, reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance and singing of The National Anthem.

The Menard family sang The National Anthem at the start of Saturday’s event. Tim Menard (on the far left) is a member of SMCR.

The boat races began at 9 a.m. and consisted of 17 teams. Fourteen teams were made up of people from local businesses or groups looking for a fun opportunity to support a good cause. The other three teams were traveling teams from out of town. Cedar Point Federal Credit Union, Matthew Budde Thrivent Financial, and Charleston Associates, Inc. were major sponsors of the event. Kristin Kauffman Beaver was the 2021 chair for the Solomon’s Dragon Boat Festival. Beaver is also the chairperson for Southern Maryland Community Resources as well as the chief marketing officer for Cedar Point FCU. In addition, her homeowner’s association put together a team this year to help support Southern Maryland Community Resources.

Each team raised a minimum of $2,000 for SMCR and consisted of 16 paddlers, a drummer, and a trained steer person (all at least 16-years old). The races were held on the Patuxent River in front of the Solomon’s River Walk while crowds cheered on their favorite team.

The teams paddled in two qualifying heats and one final race for ranking placement. While it was fun to watch from the sidelines, dragon boat racing is a full-body workout. Boater’s legs act as the anchor, while the muscles in their arms, shoulders and back drag the paddle through the water. The festival committee partnered with The Row House SOMD this year, and paddlers were allowed to take group rowing classes together at the gym in California, MD. These classes taught synchronization and listening as well as conditioning the body to prepare for race day.

“Learning to work together is really what gets a dragon boat across the finish line,” said Beaver.

There was a break for lunch at noon where local restaurants featured specialty dragon drinks, and entertainment was provided on the island. Part of the proceeds from the specialty drinks was donated to SMCR. In addition, there were children’s activities and a vendor village on the lawn in front of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church.

Our Lady Star of the Sea Church has provided many volunteers throughout the past five years — in addition to allowing their lawn to be used for the vendor village. “My favorite thing about this event is watching Solomons Island come to life,” Beaver said. She added, “The weather held out, the community came out to support a great cause, and there were many smiles on people’s faces throughout the day.”

Dragon boat racing originated over 2,000 years ago in the southern provinces of China and is one of their seven annual national holidays enjoyed by all citizens. Some teams like to dress according to a theme. The festival has seen Minions, Trolls, Night Furies, pirates, and all sorts of other fun outfits through the years. Beaver added, “We’d like to do more next year to encourage team members to wear costumes. It adds even more fun to the event.”

The traditional Dotting of the Eye Ceremony, practice sessions and a Flash Mob were all held on the island throughout the week. “The last three races (the Minor final, the Sport or traveling team final, and the Championship final, were the most important races of the day,” said Chairwoman Beaver.

“It was pretty exciting to have three local teams finish faster than the sports teams in the final races this year,” she added. The main event on Saturday concluded at 2:30 p.m. with an awards ceremony on the boardwalk.

Pictured: Wynne Briscoe

Southern Maryland Community Resources, the nonprofit responsible for putting on the event, promotes social, recreational and educational opportunities for individuals with developmental differences to develop and contribute their unique gifts as beautiful members of our human family.

In addition to the Dragon Boat Festival, SOMD Community Resources has many other events throughout the year, including three virtual events each week: Art Nights on Tuesdays, Growing in Faith nights on Wednesdays, and Game Nights on Fridays.

There is already a date set for next year’s Dragon Boat Races: August 20, 2022. “We were very happy with this year’s races, and we’re excited to make next year’s event even bigger!” said Beaver.

For more information on SMCR events, to get involved in next year’s festival, or to donate to Southern Maryland Community Resources, contact:

Therese Thiedeman, Program Director for SMCR or
Kristin Kauffman Beaver, Chair of the Solomon’s Dragon Boat Festival
Phone number: 301-997-8143


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