Success of River Cities Dragon Boat Festival shows communities are ready to row

Billed as “the ultimate family-friendly tailgate party,” the 8th annual Arkansas Dragon Boat Festival kicked off June 11 at Lake Willastein Park in Maumelle with kid’s activities, food trucks and a light show in the sky, but the real fireworks began the next morning when 28 teams competed for the glory of being dragon boat champions!

Photos by Mike Kemp

A fundraiser for the Children’s Protection Center in Little Rock, the event supports a much needed cause for Pulaski County families. “Children’s Protection Center is the community’s response to child abuse,” said Terri Todd, development and marketing director for CPC. “Every single person in our community has a part to play in keeping children safe. At CPC, this happens corroboratively with all of the different agencies that respond to child abuse, from investigators and advocates to specialized medical and mental health professionals. Healing from abuse is absolutely possible when the unique services and response is available. That’s what we provide.”

Organizers were unable to have the event in 2020 and began planning for the 2021 event, uncertain of how it would turn out. “We anticipated, that this year would be quieter and raise less than usual, but we were wrong!” Todd said. “Dragon Boat 2021 has been one of our most successful events ever in terms of money raised — over $138,000 to date! This event makes a huge difference in how we provide services to families. In the last two years we have experienced unprecedented growth in the number of families we serve and we must grow our programs to respond to the growing need. This event is definitely helping us get there.”