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No more Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival: Organizers say participation was declining

Festival’s 20th edition, held last month, was its last
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(File)

The Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival has announced that its 20th annual event — which was held last month — was its last.

The festival will no longer be held and the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival Corporation will be closing permanently effective Sept. 30, said a press release issued Wednesday morning.

Over the years, the festival has raised more than $1.8 million in support of nine local charitable campaigns. 

Each one of these capital projects was successfully completed and made a substantial impact on the City of Greater Sudbury.   

In the mid 2000s, the festival had more than 150 teams participating, however, through the years, the festival has faced a slow but steady decline, with only 36 teams participating in 2019.  

Despite the challenges, the board of directors felt it was important to mark the 20th year of racing here in Sudbury in honor of the founding partners who created the festival that spanned two decades, the community who has long supported the event, and of course all the teams who held their paddles up for charity, said the press release.

NEO Kids Foundation, this year’s charity of choice, received $45,000 in funds raised in support of the NEO Kids Care Centre expansion project thanks to the paddlers, sponsors and volunteers who participated this 2019 season.  

With declining team participation and sponsorship opportunities, the event is no longer sustainable in its current format, therefore, the festival made the difficult decision to be fiscally responsible and close its doors, the press release said. 

Many factors were evaluated and the festival explored several options before the board voted to shut down the corporation. 

“The Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival’s board of directors would like to thank everyone for their involvement and support of the festival and its beneficiaries over the many years they operated,” said a press release.

“In addition, the festival would like to thank the countless volunteers who helped plan and run the festival every year. Every contribution was invaluable and greatly appreciated.”