Ridden Dragon

It might look like an epic Chinese movie is being filmed at Tempe Town Lake this weekend, but actually the droves of boats will signal the ninth annual Dragon Boat Festival: two days of paddle racing in traditional 40-foot longboats ornately adorned stem and stern with dragon heads and tails. The paddlers -- teams of 16 to 20 men and women -- are propelled by a rhythmic drummer considered the “heartbeat” of the dragon, and guided by a standing rear sweeper or steersman.

Dragon boat racing dates back more than 2,000 years to when rural Chinese villagers competed for local bragging rights. That idea remains as 50 teams (six local) compete in sprint races of 250 to 1,000 meters.

Sun., April 1, 8 a.m., 2012