The Seventh annual Pittsburgh Dragon Boat Festival will feature FUWA, official mascot of the Beijing Olympics, as well as day-long stage performances, Asian food, a Children's Area, demonstrations, free paddling in dragon boats, and a variety of Asian arts and crafts on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Situated in historic South Side's Riverfront Park, the festival can be accessed by turning onto South 18th Street toward the Monongahela River, and following the drive into the park.
Dragon boating will be offered compliments of Three Rivers Rowing Association. Two authentic dragon boats will be on site from noon to 5 p.m. Each boat can hold 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a steersperson. Paddling is free to the public. To sign up for a time slot, visit the Three Rivers Rowing Association tent situated near the public docks, then come into the park to enjoy the festival.
Stage performances will open with the exciting Dragon Dance, followed by Shaolin Kung Fu, Lion Dances, Tang Soo Do, and traditional folk dances presented by Chinese, Indian, and Japanese organizations in traditional colorful costume. The stage will also feature Tuvan Khoomei. Tuva is a small country at the center of Asia, and knoomei (throatsinging) is the ability to carry two musical lines simultaneously. The origins of khoomei reach into the forgotten past to ancient shamanic practices.
To nurture cross-cultural understanding through the arts, Mimi Jong (erhu) collaborates with Jeff Berman (lap dulcimer) and Sue Powers (banjo) to form “AppalAsian Trio.” Mr. Berman's genre-bending musical style has allowed him to record and perform with musicians internationally. Ms. Powers, one of the founders of the band, “Devilish Merry,” is a musician and visual artist who has collaborated across stylistic boundaries on countless innovative projects. Ms. Jong is an architect and musician whose erhu playing is an extension and reflection of her artistic vision.
New to the Dragon Boat Festival stage is the Pittsburgh Ensemble Nippon, whose members include professional and highly-qualified amateur musicians of voice, strings, flute and keyboard.
The stage is funded in part by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts.
The Westinghouse Electric Company Children's Area, manned by volunteers from Three Rivers Families with Children from China, will feature placemat fans, Halloween items, necklaces and bracelets and dragon scratch offs – all for free. Also on site will be face painting and balloon animals, courtesy of Girl Scout Troup 1444.
Along the Dragon Stroll shoppers will find crafts, gemstone jewelry, Asian-inspired textiles, and more. Two demonstration areas will feature Chinese Yo-Yo, break dancing, Chinese Waist Drums, and Ikebana, where visitors can try their skills at these ancient crafts. To learn more about Asian culture, visit the many community booths situated throughout the park, and experience hands-on activities that each will provide.
Food and community booths will offer a variety of traditional Chinese and American cuisine.
State Farm Insurance hosts storytelling at noon, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 p.m., where tales of ancient Asia will come alive.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) booth, always an interesting place to visit allows visitors to chat with a real investigator and learn about employment opportunities being offered.
Dominion has supported the Dragon Boat Festival for several years, and this year is graciously funding the Volunteer Village. Without volunteers, an event such as this would not be possible.
The mission of the Pittsburgh Dragon Boat Festival is to bring Eastern and Western cultures together to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the Asian diversity within the Pittsburgh region.
The event is free to the public and provides handicapped access and facilities. For additional information, visit www.PittsburghDragonBoat Festival.org.