There is a ceremonial start to the Solomons Island Dragon Boat Festival, which begins with a paint brush. Each eye of the dragon, a figurehead to the long boats with brightly colored scales, is painted and then so is its tongue. Now these dragons can see and breathe, which means they are ready to race.
For the fourth year in a row, these 40-foot canoe-like boats with 16 paddlers return to the waters of the Patuxent River for two days of festival fun and one day of racing. Funds from the event will be used for programming at Southern Maryland Community Resources, which works with community members with developmental differences.
After the ceremonial painting on Friday night, a monsignor from the aptly named Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church will bless the boats. The next day, there is a parade of teams, and then the race starts at 9 a.m. Prizes are given for the teams with the fastest times as well as best costumes. The festival includes music, craft and food vendors and family-friendly activities.
Solomons Island is also home to the Calvert Marine Museum in the Drum Point Lighthouse and is not far from Calvert Cliffs State Park, known for its hiking and fossils. There are plenty of dock bars and waterfront dining as well as desserts we keep hearing about from Kim’s Key Lime Pies at Lotus Kitchen.
Go and make a day of it. Aug. 16-17. solomonsdragonboatfestival.com
(Want more dragons? The Capital Dragon Boat Regatta is on Saturday, Aug. 3.)