Work up a sweat and support education Event Supports Education Foundation

Julie Gorham / Citrus Chronicle

HERNANDO — It’s nearly time for folks to battle it out on Hernando Lake — in dragon boats.

The 2017 Lake Hernando Dragon Boats Festival is on schedule for Nov. 11 on Lake Hernando, but the call is out for additional teams to participate in additions to business sponsors.

The fast-growing sport features a full day of fun and spirited dragon boat racing competitions for all people aged 14 and older — all you need is 11 or 21 people, one hour of practice the week of the race, and you are ready to race, said event coordinator, Andy Smith.

“I’m shooting for 75 teams this year, for basically $30 per person they will get three races, live music, and everything provided including professionals steerers — requiring them to paddle,” Smith said. “We are inviting anyone from businesses to student groups who want to have fun for a good cause.”

However, the boat races continue to be the heart of the festival, with teams of 11 or 21 paddlers, plus a drummer in each vessel, that compete in heats on the lake course. Plus, it is exciting to watch the long boats glide across the water in an attempt to beat out some very competitive paddlers — along with tons of food and craft vendors and a kid’s play area.

Two sizes of boats are available. The mini boat takes 10 paddlers, plus two alternates and a drummer. Teams can use any combination of men and women. The standard boats take 20 paddlers plus four alternates and a drummer. The 10 person boat costs $475, and the 20 person boat runs $700, but this year a discount applies for school clubs or teams, with a promotional $100 discount.

The event will benefit the Citrus County Education Foundation (CCEF). Team members can receive pledges to cover their team registration fee as well as sponsorship money for charities.

“We are so blessed to be partnering with an event that brings people from surrounding states; I think we can make this event big,” CCEF Executive Director, Shaunda Burdette said. “It’s a partnership that we have never had before, and it has a potential to bring in a lot of funds to the foundation — it will indeed make a difference to the district and thousands of students.”

This foundation is the 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support public education — pre-kindergarten through 12th grade — in Citrus County. Its mission statement is “to support our Citrus County public schools to enhance learning and improve personal development for present and future generations.”

“We are excited to work with the schools — this is a family festival, and we hope many families come out to enjoy the day,” Smith said. “We want to stress it couldn’t be easier — this is perfect for all ages.”

He said they’re also looking for sponsoring businesses at levels ranging from $150 to $3,000. Sponsors will be recognized during the festival on the event T-shirts.

Contact Chronicle reporter Julie Gorham at 352-563-3236 or

* WHAT: 2017 Lake Hernando Dragon Boats Festival.

* WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11.

* WHERE: 3650 East Lake Place, Hernando..

* COST: 10 person boat: $475; 20 person boat:$700.

* INFO: Anyone interested in entering a team, being a sponsor, or individuals interested in joining a team, should email Smith at or call 352-201-6500. Vendor booths are still available. For more information, visit

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