TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – The annual Texarkana Dragon Boat Festival returns as part of East Texas Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrations.

On May 13, Dragon Boat racing teams will gather at Bringle Lake Park in Texarkana to compete while visitors cheer, enjoy food and music, and shop at vendors. The event also offers a kids’ play area for families. Teams include 20 paddlers and a drummer racing a 46-foot-long “dragon boat” along a 300-meter course.

  • Dragon boat teams ready to race
  • Tents at Texarkana dragon boat races
  • Volunteers at Texarkana dragon boat races
  • Texarkana dragon boat racing team tents
  • Visitors play cornhole at dragon boat festival
  • Team competing in Texarkana dragon boat races
  • Team getting ready for dragon boat race
  • Texarkana Dragon Boat Festival
  • Teams load into dragon boats ahead of race
  • Tents at Texarkana dragon boat races
  • Dallas United crew at Texarkana dragon boat races
  • Teams load into dragon boats ahead of race
  • Teams load into dragon boats ahead of race

The races start at 9:00 a.m. Each team will race at least three times for the divisional championships. The top four fundraising teams will compete in a special race during the lunch break for a trophy and bragging rights. There will be a new race every 10 minutes throughout the day.

The team who wins the mixed division wins the Golden Gator award.

The winning team must have 10 male and 10 female paddlers and attend the following year to defend the title.

Texarkana dragon boat racing Golden Alligator award winners
Golden Alligator award winners (Source: HandsOn Texarkana)

Other awards include Best Costume and Best Decorated Tent. The slowest team will receive the Concrete Turtle, acknowledging their effort and the hope for better luck next year. Trophies will be awarded by the close of the event at 3:00 p.m. The most popular steersperson will go to the highest bidding team in the afternoon steersperson auction.

There will be a pre-party on Friday at the Bringle Lake West Pavilion, where each team can begin setting up their tents or tailgate areas. Live music performances will play from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. and participants can enjoy complimentary hot dogs and beverages.

HandsOn Texarkana founded the festival to meet the need for volunteer services in the region. They place volunteers at programs including disaster preparedness, parenting classes, transportation for the elderly and youth volunteer programs. There are lots of ways to get involved listed on the event website.