KANDU Industries hosted its second Dragons on the Rock boat festival Saturday at Traxler Park.
After its maiden event in 2019, KANDU canceled Dragons on the Rock last year due to the coronavirus.
During Saturday’s festivities, which featured 18 boats resembling the mythical fire-breathing beasts, paddlers competed in teams of 16 to 20 members. With names like Paddle Faster Pastor and Oar We There Yet, the boats and their crews were sure to treat attendees to spirited competitions.
Linda Diedrich, marketing director for KANDU, said the event was held as a fundraiser to help assist adults with disabilities or disadvantages. Diedrich said this year outperformed expectations by far. The money raised will go toward funding programs the organization offers to provide those services to the community.
The event also introduced two competitions, a keg toss and the Street Chef Challenge.
In the chef challenge, sponsored by Kerry Ingredients and Flavours, local food truck owners faced off to create dishes based on ingredients provided. Kerry, who partnered with KANDU in the past during a grilling championship at the Party at the Pits, had to get creative with the new fundraising chef competition. In order to hold the competition and stay within social distancing recommendations, the group chose to incorporate food trucks.
Gray Brewing, which hosted the keg toss, was one of three breweries that housed performers and served hand-crafted beverages. To celebrate Dragons on the Rock, the brewmasters put together a brew with a dragon passion juice flavoring.
Gray Brewing was also impacted by the coronavirus, seeing many of their celebrations halted. Sarah Gray, co-owner, said their springtime St. Patrick’s Day bash last year was just one of the many canceled events of the pandemic.
“2020 was a bad year to be in the beer business; it’s been an awesome summer (this year) to kind of get back out here and do events,” she said. “The beer has not stopped flowing today.”
For the main attraction, the competition narrowed down to three teams: Johnson Financial Group, the ABC Supply Aviators and the Certified Public Paddlers sponsored by Hagen CPA.
Jeremy Webb, of the Certified Public Paddlers, said the best thing about events such as the boat races is the camaraderie and time he gets to spend with those on his team.
“(It’s) just a fun time with friends,” he said.
Webb’s wife, Denise, who is the coach and drummer said the team’s strategy boils down to what she called “positive motivated energy.”
“It is all about connecting as a team,” she said. As the leader of the team, Denise relishes in the role of coordinating the team and delegating, which she calls “the best part.” Prior to the final race, the crew sat at second place, but Denise wasn’t too concerned with the outcome. “We’ll be happy with whatever (place) we come in,” she said.
In the end they came in second to the ABC Aviators and lost by a nose—a dragon’s nose.