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“Paddles up!”

It’s definitely a familiar phrase on Oshkosh’s Fox River each September. As the weather starts to cool and the students come back to school, Fall Fest on the Fox not only takes over the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus, but also the downtown Leach Amphitheater.

Since 2006, UW Oshkosh and the Oshkosh YMCA have created a tradition for community members through the Dragonboat Race & Festival, which is held in conjunction with Fall Fest weekend. Fall Fest welcomes thousands to the campus and the community each year.

This year’s Dragonboat Race & Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 24. The dragon boat teams include a maximum of 20 paddlers, plus a steers person and a drummer. All paddlers must be at least 12 years of age and each boat must have at least eight of each gender. Each participating team is guaranteed three races. At the end of the day, one dragon boat team wins.

The good news: It’s not too late to sign up.

Volunteers, paddlers, even youth paddlers and teams are still needed, said Kate Unger, marketing manager at Reeve Memorial Union.

This year, Unger hopes to have 50 teams participate in the dragon boat race, just one of the activities that will fill Fall Fest on the Fox. The festival also includes family activities, 5 and 10K events, music and more. Unger said about 175 volunteers are needed to make the event a success.

New this year, a youth category, which fills the dragon boat with a mix of paddlers aged 12 to 17 years old and up to ten adults. The planning committee is encouraging athletic teams, church groups and other youth groups to register.

“The planning committee is excited to offer this new division to the community,” said Jeff Schneider, vice president of the YMCA. “Providing fun fitness activities is at the core of what we do and this unique event that educates children and their families on a variety of cultural traditions and physical activities.”

Beyond the annual Dragonboat Race & Festival along the Fox, on campus events include the dedication of UW Oshkosh’s newest academic building, Sage Hall, the annual Fish Fry on the Fox at Blackhawk Commons, breakfast with the Chancellor and many other activities.

To learn more about the Dragonboat Race & Festival or to sign up, visit oshkoshdragonboat.com.

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