About the Festival

About the Festival

Barrie Public Library is continuing a new tradition based on a century old one.

The Barrie Dragon Boat Festival is a summer event that promotes community spirit, vitality and unity. The fundamental objective of a Dragon Boat Festival is to strengthen community spirit, providing an opportunity for citizens to demonstrate their organizational talent and resources in hosting a major recreational and cultural event. Benefits include fundraising opportunities for local charitable and not-for-profit organizations, increased exposure for local businesses and a fun-filled event the whole family can enjoy.

20 Years of History  

The Barrie Public Library & Barrie Dragon Boat Festival  

The Barrie Dragon Boat Festival is held each year in August at Heritage Park. It began in 2003 as a fundraiser to support the need for future library branches in rapidly growing Barrie. Fast-forward to today, and the festival is now the Barrie Public Library’s signature event, as well as one of the largest annual fundraisers for several of our participating charities!  

Over the years, dozens of local charitable organizations have benefited from the unique fundraising focus of the festival. Participating teams are asked to raise a minimum of $500 for the charitable organization of their choice, in addition to their registration fee. Many of our charity teams choose to raise funds for their own organizations, using the festival as a platform for their own fundraising efforts.

After a brief hiatus in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, being able to participate in-person again for the 2022 festival was unforgettable. We are so excited to be ramping up for the 20th anniversary of the Barrie Dragon Boat Festival in 2024!   

What is Dragon Boat Racing?

Dragon boating is an exciting team water sport that is uniquely accessible. Paddlers sit in pairs, reaching forward simultaneously, to plunge their paddles into the water and move the boat forward. As the paddling technique uses a core twisting motion in a seated position, it is accessible to a wide range of athletic abilities.    

The Basics 

Dragon Boat racing originated in ancient China, using long boats adorned with brightly painted dragon heads and tails.   

Each boat holds 20 paddlers, with a drummer up front setting rhythm, and a Steersperson at the back keeping the boat on course.   

Four teams race at a time, over several heats throughout race day, with a winner emerging based on fastest time. Paddling in unison is the goal and is essential to maintaining speed throughout the race. The festival race length is 300 metres which requires over 2 minutes of continuous paddling. Building up endurance over the summer practice season is a great way to feel prepared for race day!