Colorado Dragon Boat Festival returns this weekend

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, an annual celebration of Asian Pacific American culture, returns to Sloan's Lake for its twelfth year on July 28 and 29. The action-packed weekend kicks off with the popular Dragon Boat races, with over fifty teams slated to complete in the ancient Chinese summertime sport. Since this is the Year of the Water Dragon, a special opening ceremony will feature two 75-foot dragons. The Year of the Water Dragon celebration will continue at Sunday's 5k run/walk, when participants are encouraged to wear dragon-themed costumes and masks. (Registration for the race is $35.) Saturday's events include the traditional Obon folk dance, led by the Denver Buddhist Temple Minyo Kai dancers, who will invite members of the audience to participate. Erin Yoshimura, executive director, says the festival's overarching mission is to "come together and celebrate our culture and present that to Colorado with both traditional and contemporary elements." A marketplace held both days will feature clothes, crafts and traditional cuisine; the MillerCoors Beer Garden will offer additional refreshments for adults. Meanwhile, in Dragonland, kids can learn hip-hop moves and take part in a chopstick relay race.

The festival is free and open to the public; $5 parking is available at Sports Authority at Mile High Stadium, with shuttle bus access to and from Sloan's Lake. For more information, go to www.cdbf.org.

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