Lewes Dragon Boat Festival moved back to September

Event originally planned for weekend before Labor Day
February 25, 2020

After listening to concerns about reviving the Lewes Dragon Boat Festival during the summer season, organizers worked with the racing company to move the event back to September.

Sussex Academy Director of Development Gina Derrickson said she was able to secure a contract with Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing Company to hold the event in Canalfront Park Sunday, Sept. 20.

Earlier this month, Lewes Mayor and City Council approved holding the festival Aug. 30, but council members and some residents and business owners noted the event would be more appropriate after the peak tourist season.

Mayor Ted Becker said he does not anticipate the new date will need another approval from council. He said the city was notified of the change Jan. 24.

“It is a better date for the city, as it is after prime summer season,” he said. “We are appreciative of the efforts that were made to change this to a September date.”

In past events, teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a navigator raced against each other for about 500 yards. Each team, typically sponsored by a local business or organization, participates in heats, with the best times advancing to the knockout rounds.  

The festival began in 2013 as a fundraiser for Sussex Academy’s capital campaign. More than $316,000 was raised in the festival’s first five years. The event also raised money for local nonprofit organizations such as the Lewes Public Library.

The focus of this year’s event will be fundraising for Sussex Academy’s new elementary school addition. The charter school recently submitted an application to the state for approval, and officials are expecting a decision by April.