story & photo
by K.A. Breton
On June 5, the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce held their fourth annual River Fest. What originally started as a food festival a few years ago, successful turned into a Dragon Boat Race.
Four years ago, Kim Michaud, Director of Operations, was in New Hampshire attending a food festival. Her first thought was, “We should try this with the Norwich Chamber of Commerce. We did it one year as a food festival, and we also had a few things for children,” she said.
After that, Andy Messier, the chair of the River Fest committee, did some research on what they could add to the festival and came up with dragon boat racing. He found a company from Canada which would supply the boats and several local businesses signed up to compete in the race.
The event has become quite competitive over the years. “It is our most successful fundraiser,” said Kim. “This year we have 20 teams signed up with six teams racing at one time. The race is fun and competitive, and is a major fundraiser for the Chamber,” she said.
For the second year in a row, the Kazoku Martial Arts Pink Strokes won the Dragon Boat Race. Although, this year, the Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) Hydrowers II signed up first and claimed the pink shirts – each team gets to choose at sign-up – leaving the Pink Strokes with black shirts and pink letters. Second place went to Attorney Browning Objections, with third place going to the NPU Hydrowers Team II.
Along with racing, there were also vendors selling fine arts and crafts and food.