“Paddles up!” will be the cry heard across Lake Dora when the Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival gets underway on March 10.
Three categories of teams participate in the races that are watchable from the shore of Wooton Park. Teams of dragon boat enthusiasts that practice regularly and race often will compete against each other in one group, while community teams whose members have a wide range of experience, or none at all, compete separately.
Dragon boat racing began in ancient China and is a fast-growing water sport with more than 2 million race participants worldwide. Crews consist of 10 or 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson. The drummer provides the “steady beat of the dragon heart,” and crew members paddle in rhythm to the sound of the drum to ensure perfect synchronicity. The elongated boats are adorned with brightly painted dragon heads and tails.
The annual Tavares event is now in its 16th year and is free for spectators. The day’s festivities at Wooton Park begin with opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. followed by the start of the races, a car show, food and craft vendors and continual live entertainment in addition to the dragon boat races.
The area’s Rotary Club is the event’s sponsor and uses the proceeds from the teams’ registration, vendor fees and sponsorships to provide local students with scholarships.
Wooton Park is located in downtown Tavares at 100 E. Ruby Street.
When Byron Faudie and Tim Totten approached the Mount Dora Center for the Arts with an unusual proposal, their reputation as absurdists preceded them. The pair, known for signature events like Audio Game, Clue! Live Mystery Parties, the Escape Game in a Box, and the Amazing Race for Charity, pitched a temporary miniature golf course in downtown Mount Dora, with all the holes designed by local artists.
“We both love art and fundraising for non-profits, but we’re terrible golfers,” says Faudie. “So rather than skip another golf tournament, we decided to create one we’d actually want to play.”
Open play for the inaugural Pop-Up Art Golf course, which will be constructed on the tennis court in Donnelly Park will be Friday, March 9 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, March 10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 11 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is five dollars per person.
Totten and Faudie, who together own the game company FunVenture, have already secured 9 holes for the course. Designs range from a recreation of the new Florida Hospital Waterman Emergency Room, as created by the hospital’s architect and contractor, to a hole created by local tiny-house builder Andrew Bennett. Artists from Mount Dora High School have submitted a design for a hole that reflects a local landmark, while another artist is busy creating a hole called “The Kitchen Sink.” The Pop-Up Art Golf course is a FunVenture project in close cooperation with the Mount Dora Center for the Arts and the City of Mount Dora Parks & Recreation Department. For more information or to enter the golf tournament, visit www.funventure.us ,