Teams Prepare For Fort Smith Dragon Boat Festival

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) - The time is almost here for teams to hit the water, as the second annual Dragon Boat Festival kicks off this weekend in Fort Smith.

Teams are preparing to race 250 meters along the Arkansas River on Saturday (Sept. 10). They are paddling for a chance to win a big prize, as well as to support a good cause.

The goal behind this festival is to raise money for the Hamilton House, which is a child and safety center that serves six counties in the River Valley. They deal with hundreds of kids who have been abused.

"We are trying to bring awareness that is a topic that is tough to talk about sometimes," said David Burton, event chair. "Eight hundred kids in the six county area is way too many."

With the big race just two days away, 20 teams are hard at work practicing.

Teams of 21 members have signed up and are ready to show their skills  on a dragon boat. Each boat has a dragon head in the front and a tail in the back. The fast-paced race will last just over a minute, and the event is all about teamwork. The teams must also sprint to the finish line to win the golden paddle.

The dragon boat race starts Saturday (Sept. 10) at 9 a.m. in the Fort Smith Park along the Arkansas River.

Before the race, there will be a concert on Friday (Sept. 9) at the Fort Smith Park at the pavilion. The bands start at 7 p.m. and food vendors will also be out. The event is free and open to the public.