The Open House returns to EDBRC!

For the first time in several years, the EDBRC Open House returned to the Clubhouse, North Saskatchewan River, and Dawson Park this past Saturday, August 13th — and we could not be any happier.

The Open House is our annual free BBQ/paddle/backyard party, but it represents much more than that. For the Club and our volunteers, it’s a way to introduce our neighbours — Riverdalians, Edmontonians, families, friends — to the amazing sport of dragon boating. For attendees, it’s usually their first experience on a dragon boat, or even on the River — and, as many participants can confirm, an unforgettable one.

So when we finally put on this event after years of pandemic restrictions and a dock damage scare back in June, we were understandably excited to welcome everyone out.

Food, fun, and friendly competition

Paddlers receiving instruction at marshalling.

From the morning, over 400 paddlers flocked to the Clubhouse to sign up for a paddling slot. Anyone could hop on a dragon boat, try out paddling during a 30 minute session, and end with a race. Many were excited about being on the river, others wanted to try out a new sport. Some were just there for some food and fun. (That’s OK too!)

From the late morning, our grills were sizzling as our volunteers tirelessly cooked and served hot dogs, chips, and refreshments. It was a scorchingly hot day — our soda unfortunately ran out early, but we had cold water being served all day with the help of Water & Ice Co. from Leduc.

“The hotdogs were delicious and the atmosphere was welcoming,” an attendee said, adding that they “sure do appreciate these family oriented events, and will return next season to participate in the sport.”

First-time paddlers ready to roll!

A surprise hit this year was our Paddle Competition! Attendees with a competitive spirit hopped on one of the Club’s Paddle ERG machines and tried to go the farthest “distance” they could in 40 seconds. As the competitors pushed themselves, they drew crowds of people who cheered them on.

“My 2 teens had a great time trying the contest,” said an attendee, “and though they didn’t win, they were in the Top 5, which only peaked their competitive side😉.”

We also had a free Gift Card Giveaway Raffle ongoing throughout the day to some of Edmonton’s premier establishments. Prizes were given to lucky winners with matching raffle ticket numbers.

Hung Mon lion dancers putting on a show

“I can’t believe I actually won one of these,”, one lucky attendee said.

Over in Dawson Park, the Hung Mon Athletic Club of Edmonton provided a traditional lion dance. Visitors sat and watched the beating drums, ringing cymbals, and precise choreography put on by the lion dancers. They put on an amazing cultural performance, drawing a crowd that included parkgoers who were just passing by.

Building our community

Paddles splashed, BBQs grilled, and the sun beat down on a great day. More than anyone else, we were lucky to have the opportunity to open up our space to the community, and to share our love and passion for dragon boating.

Many of our current paddlers started with an Open House some years ago, took a Learn to Paddle class, and found their calling from there. Some were even volunteers on Saturday, paying it forward.

As much as the Club values building a competitive program and investing in athletes, events like the Open House sits at the heart of our broader mission: to grow the sport of dragon boating in Edmonton. Coming out of a successful Open House this year, we definitely hope our community continues to grow. And it looks like it might yet.

“Might have found my new sport,” said an attendee on Instagram, “Thanks for a great event”.

Thank you to our volunteers and supporters!

As with every year, our volunteers were so crucial to the Open House experience — from coaching, steering, coordinating the docks, and grilling BBQ, they were the ones to make sure everyone had a great time on Saturday.

Thank you Kelly and Val from Wahine!

We also had Steven from Owl Eye Imagery volunteer to take photos at our event. Thank you for some amazing photography!

We were also fortunate to have some incredible supporters, including those that donated to our gift card giveaway. Lululemon on Whyte Ave donated gift cards as prizes for our Paddle Competition, providing some incentive for our competitors.

Our Riverdale neighbours, River Valley Co., graciously donated gift cards to Dogpatch, Bread + Butter, and Little Brick for our Raffle. A special thanks go out to them!

Thanks also to Fleisch DelikatessenGuru Ice DistrictThe Butternut TreeImagine Monet Edmonton, and Snow Valley Aerial Park for donating prizes to our Raffle!