Sun, Jun 12, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Dragon boaters hit the rivers in honor of a spurned poet

CNA , TAIPEI

A dragon-boat flag catcher is at full stretch at the end of a race in yesterday's 2005 Taipei International Dragon Boat Festival. The competition was held on the Keelung River.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday lauded the Lukang Dragon Boat Festival race as one of the oldest and most colorful events in Taiwan while attending the race in Changhua County.

Hsieh said there were about a dozen dragon boat races being held around the nation yesterday to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, but he chose to attend Lukang's contest because the coastal community was famous for traditional culture.

He said that if Taiwan wanted to attract overseas tourists, it had to work to promote its distinctive features, adding that Lukang, with its rich cultural heritage, could work to this end.

He added that there had been a record number of tourists to Taiwan this year.

Meanwhile, a series of activities was held yesterday at the Tachia Riverside Park along the Keelung River in celebration of the festival.

The main event was a dragon boat competition with 3,000 participants forming 111 teams from around the world.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) led a team of city officials to compete with a team partly made up of visually-impaired competitors.

The festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, and features dragon boat races and the consumption of zongzi -- glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves -- in remembrance of Chu Yuan (屈原), a famed poet and official from China's Warring States Period, who drowned himself after failing to convince his king to guard the kingdom against an enemy.

Ma also presided over a zongzi-making activity, in which more than 1,000 people took part.

The dumplings will be presented to the physically and mentally challenged as well as elderly people in the care of welfare organizations.

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