How Can You be Part of This Year’s Dragon Boat Festival?

by | Jul 11, 2022 | High Rock Lake

On Saturday, July 23rd, the eighth annual Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival will be happening and where will you be?

Join the festivities with food, music, displays, competition, kids’ zone, and more, all at the Rowan Shrine Club on High Rock Lake (6480 Long Ferry Road, Salisbury), all wrapped around High Rock Lake with a family-friendly atmosphere.

The community fundraiser is the signature event for the Rowan Chamber’s small business programs and services.

Daniel Matangira, Dragon Boat Festival Chair shared, “We are looking forward to a record-breaking crowd as we have been diligent on getting the word out through all means possible; through print, digital, old-fashioned posters in our downtown retailers and informational meetings with the Rotary, Kiwanis and Civitan’s. These wonderful community organizations welcomed us with open arms, and we even garnered volunteers for the event.”

“The momentum that we have with our new and returning sponsors has the local environment charged up. We can’t’ wait for this year’s event. The Cheerwine Festival broke attendance records, and with all of the positive buzz in town, so should also have a successful Dragon Boat Festival,” continued Matangira.

The Dragon Boat Festival highlights the best of Rowan County – businesses, food vendors, health and wellness, team sports, community involvement and High Rock Lake living. Pre-pandemic, there was more than 4,500 in attendance and 30 teams competed, attracting the interest of both local and statewide media outlets. 

Dragon Boat,Shriners,Festival
Dragon Boat,Shriners,Festival


“Our stretch goal for this year’s competition was 32 teams and we have achieved that goal! This will be our largest competitive field in eight years,” said Festival Chair Daniel Matangira. “And new for 2022, we have decided to spice up the competition with four teams going head-to-head in heat races beginning with the morning sessions. The fastest teams by time will then compete against their rivals in the afternoon, with the final race determining the championship team. Do I need to remind anyone that the team I sponsored, The Gator Bites, won the overall competition in 2021, and 2019? Perhaps that is why the Festival Committee decided to change up the lanes, to try and upset the reigning team,” laughed Matangira.

The Dragon Boat competition is the highlight of the festival, which features 20 paddlers, one drummer and one steers-person per each competing over a 300-meter course on water. Each team is placed in heat races determined by category (corporate, community/non-profit or Club team) then speed, with the final race to determine the overall championship team. New for 2022 will be four teams competing per heat race due to the influx of entered teams.

“We are thrilled to have three of Rowan County’s higher education institutions participate, it will be great to see which school Catawba, Livingstone or Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has the muscle, will power and finesse to conquer the competition. Our fourth higher-education option Hood Seminary is represented by Carmen Harper our festival committee member along with many volunteers. Our Gold sponsors will be posting their best teambuilding efforts, Trinity Oaks Dragon Slayers, Novant Health Healing Dragons, Hotwire Communications Fiber Dragons, and Salcoa Contracting Railway Crossfit,” Continued Matangira.

“My favorite part of the day is the Drummer Parade. The team drummers are dressed in colorful costumes, dance to music provided by Livingstone College’s WLJZ radio, as their team cheers them on. It’s so much fun!” said Chamber President Elaine Spalding.

The event schedule allows for spectators to come out for a full day of entertainment or just for a few hours. The detailed schedule is below:

Saturday, July 23 Race Day Schedule:

8 AM                  Rowan Shrine Club spectator gates open

9 AM                  Welcome

                           National Anthem, Sponsor recognition, race & team introductions

                        Round One Competition (32 teams)

                          11 AM                 Round Two Competition (32 teams)

                          Noon                   Mid-day break

                        Sponsor and elected officials’ recognition

                        Novant Health Wellness Cup Presentation

                        Drummer Parade and best award

                        ‘Heads & Tails’ competition

                        Live Music by Sydney Lett, country musician

                            1 PM                 Semi-final races (top 16 teams)

                            2 PM                 Championship race

                        @ 3:30 PM            Awards Ceremony


Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and make it a fun lake party. The “Drummer Parade” will occur during the noon lunch break. Team representatives will compete to see who has the best costume! An award will be presented to the drummer with the best costume. Following the parade, spectators are encouraged to participate in a Heads/Tails game with winner being named by notable Salisbury residents and taking the prize.

“We are so thankful for the way the business community has rallied behind our annual festival. For the first time our Gold sponsor level is sold out with Hotwire Communications, Novant Health, Salcoa Contracting, Inc., and Trinity Oaks Lutheran Services, Carolinas. We are joined by Catawba College, Cardinal Tire and Matangira Recycling, along with the Salisbury Post and Visit Rowan County rounding out our Silver level.

Ahold Delhaize/Food Lion, Atrium Health, Duke Energy, F & M Bank, Livingstone College, Southern Power Company, State Employees Credit Union, and The Fish Bowl make up the bronze level sponsors. We created the Community sponsorship category to provide an opportunity for our local businesses to participate in the event to engage with their community, Cube Yadkin Generation LLC. Fisher Realty, Godley’s Garden Center. Healthcare Management Consultants, Healthy Blue NC, High Rock Lake Association, and Walser Technology Group. What a great sampling of large and small Rowan County businesses supporting the event!” said Spalding.

Dragon Boat,Shriners,Festival


Part of the ambiance of a festival is the variety of food and beverage vendors. This year the space allotment is full, and the variety is a full peak, from hand-made donuts being made on site, jams and jellies, and BBQ on mac and cheese to New Sarum’s signature Dragon Boat lager and cheesecake or ice cream for dessert with vegan and gluten-free options available, there is something for everyone.

Backcountry and Beyond

Communities In Schools Rowan

Families First

Food Lion Feeds

Goat Boxco

Healthy Blue NC

High Rock Lake Association

Kinetic by Windstream

Leaf Filter Gutter Protection

Osterhus Outdoors Fiberglass Pools

PKS Kitchen Remodeling

Rowan Helping Ministries

Tami Pope Originals

Boardwalk Baker Cheesecakes


Dolce Italian Ice

High Rock Kettlecorn

Hot Dog Shack

KB Deal Ice Cream

Lobster Dogs

Mollie’s Minis & More

New Sarum Brewing Company

Teriyaki Chicken

The Little Piggy

United Beverage

Windmill Springs Vineyard

Dragon Boat,Shriners,Festival


As with any large-scale event, spectators are asked to adhere to a few rules for the comfort and convenience of the crowd. Coolers with outside food and beverage are not allowed on property nor are pets allowed on the Rowan Shrine Club property.


Parking is available in many lots adjacent to the Shrine Club for $5 per car, coordinated by East Rowan High School Athletics, coordinated by Coach John Fitz. Parking will also be available at 40 & 8 campground and will be by donation.  F & M Bank will be providing trolley rides to and from the parking areas located on Hendrick Lambe Road. Look for the signs as you come down Long Ferry Road.

Safety and Foul Weather:

Pan Am Dragon Boat Company has assured us that all safety protocols will be in place to ensure a safe event for our sponsors, teams, and guests.  

This event is “rain or shine” and will go on even during inclement weather. On-water competition will be suspended if there is lightning within a five-mile radius. In the case of lightning, powerful winds or other elements that affect the safety of our participants, teams will be pulled from the water. A delay will go into effect until the weather subsides. In rare cases, a decision may be made to call-off the rest of the racing.

There will be several safety boats along the racecourse and following the race boats, including Miller’s Ferry Fire Department’s water rescue boats as well as a medical tent for spectators that may experience heat or fatigue. “We will have an appropriate number of staff and volunteers on property in case we are needed,” said Fire Chief Josh Fox.

“I want to thank Chamber President, Elaine Spalding, Shrine Club President Glenn Taylor, Fire Chief Josh Fox along with the fire and rescue volunteers from Miller’s Ferry Fire Dept for making my job as chair so well organized. This festival is open and inclusive for all people who what to enjoy what Rowan County has to offer,” commented Matangira. “This is the epitome of community coming together. For instance, Rowan Helping Ministries will be on site to collect non-perishables. Please bring something for the food bank as their overall donations are down due to the ongoing shortages in the marketplace and delivery issues.”

For more information on the Dragon Boat Festival, please contact Rowan Chamber of Commerce at 704.633.4221 web site: www.rowanchamberdragonboat.org.

I hope to see you at the Shrine Club! And when you are out there, don’t forget to check out ALL of the vendors.

I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2022. Please email me at highrock@YourRowan.com

#itsaROCOthing     #lakeliving   #YourRowan   #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake


About The Author

Joyce Caron-Mercier

After three decades of working in the motorsports industry from track and team management to public relations, and overseeing sponsorship and driver contracts within NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar and World of Outlaws competition, Joyce wanted more. She came to ACS Charlotte in February 2020 as the staff lead for the annual Taste of Hope Charlotte gala. Joyce’s role encompasses event production, sponsorship cultivation and implementation, public awareness, and interaction with the Charlotte gala Board of Ambassadors, and launched the Young Professionals CLT ABOA in 2022. Joyce and her husband Paul of 32 years discovered High Rock Lake, situated between Rowan and Davidson Counties, and quickly became full-time lake residents on North Carolina’s second largest lake with their two Great Danes, Max and Molly. Joyce writes a monthly blog for Your Rowan, a county marketing initiative to share the positive attributes of Rowan County with its residents and visitors. Joyce’s blog and social handles are called ‘Joyce on the Lake’. Being community minded is important and I serve as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the High Rock Lake Association, High Rock Lake Clean Sweep, and assist the Rowan Chamber with their annual Dragon Boat Festival.