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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Letters to the Editor Dragon Boat Regatta

Dragon Boat Regatta

Dear Editor,
Those of you who are into social media and use Facebook and Twitter as a place to get your news should not believe all the posts, rumors or things you read as part of this media. For one thing a large percentage of postings on Carolina Beach sites.The Town of Carolina Beach in support of our business community is organizing a two-day shoulder season event call The Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival on October 25th and 26th.  This two day family focused event will benefit both our Fire Department and the annual Got-em-on-live-bait Disabled Fishing Tournaments. The idea for the event was developed to create additional weekend stays at our local hotels and motels and to help our local business community in the off season which is a mission for our TDA (Tourism Development Authority funds) generated by Room Occupancy Taxes. The event is was also created to focus attention on our outstanding Sport Fishing Fleet, Entertainment Boats, Boat Rentals and Transient Docks available for tourist and visitors at the Carolina Beach Marina.  
Some might say what is a Dragon Boat Regatta?  Well it is a fun filled day of local folks competing against each other in a 45 foot Chinese Decorated Paddle boat. Each Boat seats 20 paddlers – 10 on one side and 10 on another, participants of any age can get on a boat with one additional person responsible for beating on a drum to keep the paddlers in motion while an experience steersman keeps the boat on the straight and narrow.   This a fun family entertainment event which will be held at the Carolina Beach Marina and in the Yacht Basin so residents along the Basin and in certain viewing areas can come out and cheer on the teams as they paddle by their location.  Our town’s Arts and Activities Committee is organizing a creative festival around the marina with various Art Vendors setup for the day of the race.   The Island Women are talking about creating a kids zone with games and activities. 
Just as the town has done in the past to help start up activities and events to help promote tourism we had proposed to advance some money as seed money for this event out of the Tourism Development Authority – Room Occupancy Tax dollars the county collects from our local hotels and motels and manages for the town.  These advance funds would be re-paid back over a 45 day period as money is raised and paid by corporate sponsors and participants.  Our town’s TDA funds can only be used for Tourism related activities or marketing.  In the past we have used these funds to get all the activities at the boardwalk started and funded and we continue to do that today.  Prior to any activities at the boardwalk the town of Carolina Beach Room Occupancy funds put up the money to pay for the former Boardwalk Makeover Group to organize a Bingo at the boardwalk on Wednesday nights, the bands at the boardwalk on Thursday nights, the sound at the boardwalk on Thursday nights. 
The same TDA funds also have been used to fund the Fireworks at the Boardwalk on Thursday nights, the family night activities and the movies at the lake.   As an example the town provided funding for the BINGO equipment and tables early on to get them started and once they began to turn a profit PIRA and CBDI is keeping all the BINGO revenue generated each week.   The town council approved advance funding for the one day Arts Festival this past spring with the expectation of money generated being paid back to the town and the Farmers Market started in similar fashion and today the town receives some revenue back each year from its operation. 
The whole idea is to access funds from our TDA reserve which is dedicated to put heads in beds at our motels and hotels and provide some initial startup funding for events and activities that attract visitors and tourist who will book a room and spend money within our local business community.  In the case of the Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival all the advance money would be paid back and net proceeds going to the Fire Department and the Got-em-on-live-bait club.
I am currently working with an individual to underwrite the production of the event which means we will not have a request for advance funding for the Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival this year.  Many of the local hotels and motels are putting together a two day promotional stay to support this event as well.  We have been contacted a teams from New Bern, Holly Springs and Whiteville who inquired about participating in this year’s event.  Our current council supports the CVB and its direction that the beach communities in New Hanover County need to focus attention and marketing efforts on the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) to increase occupancy and tourism. 
If you look at occupancy numbers we are almost fully booked in Carolina Beach during the summer season.  Our town’s MAC committee along with the CVB focuses their entire marketing campaigns on getting people here in the off season. 
The idea of this two day event was to compliment the objective of our marketing with CVB and I plan to coordinate this event with some of the MAC advertising as well.   Myself and council is also looking to organize a two day spring event to help provide additional visitors to our community in March and April. 
It already appears we are going to have a hugely successful event as we are just getting out to the media this week and we already have 15 teams signing up and will most likely hit 20 teams participating. The Arts and Activity committee is talking about up to 20 vendor tents for the event and. 
We are working with 5 corporate sponsors.  RA Jeffrey’s is providing a special for the event and the Fire Department is moving their annual BBQ fund raiser to the Marina on the 26th as the fire house will be under construction.  We have a dozen Carolina Beach residents on the organizational committee and a lot of volunteers from Got-em-on, the Fire Department and the community in general involved.  The Island Women are going to work on getting something together for a children’s fun area with games and other activities as well.  This is one of those events in which the entire community has come together for a fun family focused two day event to support two great causes.  
We are using proven event management from the past with Got-em-on-live handling the event tents, staging and refreshments and Arts and Activities handling the Art Vendors and a professional Dragon Boat Company managing the racing. 
Their past experience with similar events means we do not have to reinvent the wheel to make this all work successfully.   Based on early interest we could have over 1500 to 2000 attendees to this event in its first year.  I encourage everyone to get involved as people of all ages are going to participate and paddle down the yacht basin for fun.
What do you think about the town using TDA funds to promote shoulder season family friendly event’ in the spring and fall? Dates of this year’s event will be October 25th, and 26th. Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival meetings are held each Monday at town hall starting at 6PM and you are invited to come out and join in the fun.
Mayor Bob Lewis,
Carolina Beach, NC