5 reasons you need to go to Birmingham’s inaugural Dragon Boat Race and Festival at East Lake Park on August 24. Admission is free!

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Dragon boat race. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

Get ready for dragons, drums and fun! On Saturday, August 24, Mitchell’s Place will be hosting Birmingham’s first ever Dragon Boat Race and Festival from 8AM-1PM at East Lake Park. Here are five reasons you need to attend or to sign up to race.

1. You’ll get all the feels by supporting an incredible cause

Making friends. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

If I have to choose a top reason as to why you should attend this event, it is this—you will be supporting an amazing cause.


Mitchell’s Place is an inclusive accredited preschool and outpatient clinic that specializes in improving the lives of children (and their families) affected by autism and other developmental disabilities. 

Since opening in 2005, Mitchell’s Place has helped more than 1,000 children.

Through the work of highly qualified and caring therapists, analysts and teachers, Mitchell’s Place provides individualized treatment plans to help unlock each child’s potential. 


Swinging. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

My daughter has been part of the outpatient occupational therapy clinic at Mitchell’s Place for six months to help with her handwriting skills, coordination and strength. I can honestly say that the improvements she has made in such a short amount of time in the program have been amazing! The staff is so nice, helpful and skilled at what they do, too, which is a huge plus for both kids and parents. 

Handwriting and coloring. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

Services at Mitchell’s Place include:

  • Early learning preschool
  • Applied behavioral analysis
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Psychiatry
  • Group programs
Outdoor play. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

All proceeds raised during the Dragon Boat Race and Festival will directly benefit the children, families and faculty at Mitchell’s Place. Helping them to continue offering such important services and programs will definitely give you all the feels.


2. You’ll cheer on teams as they race to the finish in authentic dragon boats

Dragon boat race. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

Dragon boats. I repeat. Dragon. Boats. Could it get any cooler than that? 

What started as a popular Chinese tradition 2,300 years ago, is now a water sport that is enjoyed in more than 35 countries. The sport is filled with so much energy and color, it’s easy to see why it has become so popular. And now you can catch a glimpse of what it’s all about during Mitchell’s Place’s Dragon Boat Race and Festival. 

As a spectator at the event, you’ll have the exciting opportunity to watch as teams row to victory across East Lake in authentic 46-foot long Hong Kong-style dragon boats. Each team will include 20 paddlers and one costumed drummer. 


Dragon boat race. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

Why a costumed drummer? It’s pretty interesting. The drummer, also known as the heartbeat of the dragon boat, helps lead paddlers throughout the race using rhythmic drum beats to indicate the speed and synchronicity of the paddlers’ strokes. It also pumps up the crowd.

Winners of the race will compete for several awards, including:

  • Fastest time
  • Best costume
  • Best test decoration
  • And more!

What’s especially exciting is that you can watch the race up close under the spectators tent. So bring your favorite outdoor chairs and enjoy the race!


Want to take part in the race? Team entries are due by August 1. 

Sign up here.

The event will also have a spectators tent where attendees can bring chairs to watch up close and on the water.


3. There are so many fun activities, your head will spin

Photo via Mitchell’s Place

Along with an exciting dragon boat race, there will also be tons more activities family-friendly activities, including: 

  • A kids zone with face painting, a rock wall and paddle boarding.
  • The Merchants Market featuring a variety of local vendors providing everything from art to food.
  • The park, which offers walking trails and gorgeous lake views.

Birmingham Mountain Radio will also be there to bring you live music and more!

Fun with chalk. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

Extra perk: pets are welcome as long as they are on a leash. So feel free to bring them along for an afternoon of family-friendly fun. 


4. You’ll breathe new life into Birmingham areas that need it most

Class time. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

A main goal of Mitchelll’s Place is to increase awareness of autism in underserved areas of Birmingham. One way they do this is by bringing their fundraising events to specific areas, like East Lake. While proceeds from the event benefit Mitchell’s Place, the attendance by so many people will help revitalize the East Lake community.

But that’s not the only reason for hosting an event at East Lake Park. It also offers many unique aspects that are worth mentioning. Located at 8149 4th Avenue North, the park has a long history that dates back to 1886. It also:

  • Covers 100 acres
  • Includes a 45-acre lake
  • Is rich in walking trails and vegetation
  • Is located near Ruffner Mountain
  • Has a mural wall (selfie anyone?)

5. Admission is free

Last but not least, my last reason why you should attend the Dragon Boat Race and Festival is that admission is totally free! How could you possibly turn that down? 


Support Mitchell’s Place

Sweet smiles. Photo via Mitchell’s Place

Show your support for Mitchell’s Place and attend the Dragon Boat Race and Festival on Saturday, August 24 at East Lake Park from 8AM-1PM. Admission is free!

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