MANDEVILLE – The spectacle of dragon boat racing will come to Louisiana for the first time this spring when competing teams of paddlers launch their colorful vessels in the Tchefuncte River at Madisonville. Produced by Toronto-based GWN Dragon Boat, along with Northshore-based Mike Cambre & Associates, the Greater New Orleans International Dragon Boat Festival (GNOIDBF) will be held May 16, 2009. 

Dragon boat festivals bring together teams of 20 paddlers, a steersperson and a drummer who work in unison to accomplish a common goal. Dragon boating builds camaraderie, and a sense of 'team' - as well as providing an exciting event for spectators. The weekend event will showcase the sport as well as the culture and spirit of Louisiana, in racing, pre- and post-event celebrations and live music.

The festival will take place in the historic maritime community of Madisonville, located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain at the mouth of the Tchefuncte River. It is anticipated that the event will attract 1,250 participants and at least as many spectators.

This ancient sport has been gaining popularity in North America over the past 20 years and, until now, hosted annual events in all southern states except Louisiana. The May festival in Madisonville will introduce dragon boating to the state and a whole new audience of spectators.

This is an exciting time for the sport of dragon boating. We believe that bringing this event to the New Orleans area creates a sport tourism experience second to none. It will be a key component of Major League Dragon Boat, the richest dragon boat series recently introduced by GWN,” said Mike Kerkmann, President of GWN Dragon Boat.

GWN Dragon Boat is North America’s largest full service dragon boat event marketing company, producing more than 45 festivals annually. In 2009, GWN launched Major League Dragon Boat, the first North American dragon boat festival series of its kind. (Visit The Canadian organization is working with Mandeville-based events promoter Mike Cambre, race director for New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Marathon. 

For more information, contact Tanya Leader at Louisiana's Northshore/St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission, (985) 892-0520.