Ithaca Canoe Fest

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Date(s) - 05/07/2023
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

701 Taughannock Blvd
Ithaca, New York 14850


The inaugural festival reframes the International Finger Lakes Dragon Boat Festival to center historic and contemporary boating on Cayuga Lake. The schedule of events and programs explore some of the many ways people have boated on Cayuga Lake.

May 7th Schedule
10:00am – Words Before All Else (Maybe Thanksgiving address??): Open Canoe Fest with an introduction ceremony. Sachem Sam George will provide the Words Before All Else, a traditional Haudenosaunee welcome blessing.
10:30am (ish) – Open Paddling Session: Join Hickory Edwards, of the Haudenosaunee Canoe Journey, for an open paddling session. This session invites dragon boaters and canoers to paddle across the inlet together and spend time enjoying boating on the water.
12:00pm – Canoe Gifting: Students in the Cornell Dyson School senior capstone AEM 4940: Outdoor Recreation Economy spent the semester building a 16-foot-long cedar strip canoe, which will be donated to the Haudenosaunee Canoe Journey. Join our communal ceremony were Professor of Practice Trent Preszler and students will gift the canoe to support the Haudenosaunee’s programs that guide youth from the Onondaga Nation on a 13-day paddling expedition across the ancestral waterways of the Haudenosaunee peoples.
1:00pm – Awakening of the Dragon Ceremony: The traditional Chinese Eye Dotting ceremony, “The Awakening of The Dragons,” features local and visiting dignitaries who paint red dots on the eyes of the ceremonial dragon boat figureheads to officially “wake” them up and kick-off the Dragon Boat race and its season. The event includes a traditional colorful lion dance to bless the event, the paddlers, and the boats.
1:45pm – Dragon Boating: Gather your friends and engage some friendly dragon boat racing sponsored by the Ithaca Dragon Boat Club. No experience needed, but registration is required!
4:00pm – Closing Celebration
LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This event will take place in the traditional and contemporary lands of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ Nation (Cayuga), one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Learn more at

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