The rain is holding off for the 2018 Dragon Boat Festival hosted by HandsOn Texarkana at Bringle Lake West in Texarkana, Texas. This is the third year for the family-friendly fundraiser whose proceeds go directly back into the community of Texarkana. Over 400 people are attending this engaging event to take part in either racing boats, supporting participants, or to simply seeing what the event entails.
2015 Board President of HandsOn, David Carter, established the Dragon Boat festival only three years ago. Tired of holding another golf tournament, Carter took a risk by changing up their largest fundraiser for nearly two decades. Carter wanted to bring to Texarkana what he and his family experienced in Conway, Arkansas, a fun-filled competition that is unique and could really benefit everyone involved.
That risk has not only paid of for Carter, but for the community as well. People of all ages, backgrounds, and interests come together to participate in the race and festivities, looking forward to it as a kick-off for outdoor functions.
Kathy Graves, Executive Director for HandsOn Texarkana, has dedicated twenty years to the organization. She recalls memories from the previous two years where teams set up on the grassy knoll and tailgate through the afternoon.
“They bring their families and cook, play, and have fun between the races. Each team races three times and really enjoy spending the day together, she exclaims!”
Once each team has completed their three sets, their averages are taken in order to decide placement. The festival takes almost all day to complete, with teams practicing as early as 7:00 A.M. and races ending at 3:30 with the final announcement of victors.
Graves is proud to be able to have HandsOn hold this annual festivity and hopes to continue to host it for many years to come. This fundraiser is essential to supporting the efforts of HandsOn.
“It’s hard to say what has been the most important thing as an ED for HandsOn when it comes to leaving an impact on the community, but Helping every non-profit in Texarkana get volunteers so they can accomplish their mission, is very important,” explained Graves.
The local organization also has programs like Skilled Parenting where volunteers go to the Federal Correctional Institution, Texarkana and teach parenting classes to inmates. They also have a Youth Volunteering program that educates students about volunteering and their Transportation for the Elderly assistance that is facilitated by by Joy Jordan.
HandsOn provides their programs at no cost to the recipients, essential for those who are trying to make ends meet. Graves explains this is why the Dragon Boat Festival is so important to HandsOn Texarkana and the community.
Presenting Sponsor, Wadley, Shelby Brown, said, “initially we became involved as a team building activity since we are such a large organization. It allows us to pulls many people from various departments.”
Brown said that Wadley has been a sponsor for the last three years and they look forward to continuing to be a part of the event.
You can download photos from the event HERE.