Lewes Dragon Boat Festival to end five-year run Sept. 17

2017 event to be last for popular boat race
August 16, 2017

This year’s Lewes Dragon Boat Festival will be the the last for the popular fall event, ending a five-year run that’s brought thousands of people to Canalfront Park to participate or watch a colorful boat race in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

Event Chair Krista Griffin said the festival was originally designed to run for only three years, but its popularity convinced organizers to continue.  

“It was so well received and people loved it so much that we did it for a fourth year,” Griffin said.

But it was shortly following the festival’s fourth year the decision was made to end it after the 2017 event. “To be honest, five years is a really good run,” she said. “We’re going to stop while people are still enjoying it. We have other ideas in the works.”

The festival began in 2013 as a fundraiser for Sussex Academy’s capital campaign. About $250,000 has been raised for the school in the festival’s four years. This year’s event, slated for Sunday, Sept. 17, will benefit both Sussex Academy and the Lewes Public Library.

The event is organized by Griffin, her husband Stuart and Gina Derrickson. The trio does all the planning and logistics, but gets a lot of help from volunteers the day of the event.

The races pit teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a navigator against each other, rowing in 10 rows of two for about 500 yards. Each team participates in heats, with the best times advancing into the knockout rounds.  

The event often draws large crowds watching from both sides of the canal. To learn more about the festival, go to