Dragon boats race for homeless animals: Waggin for Dragons event raises funds for animal shelter

Ronnie Rutherford, Jamie Tharpe, and Brei Grove, all of Front Royal, paint the eyes on the dragons. This tradition dates back over 2,000 years and is known as "awakening the dragon." Ashley Miller/Daily


FRONT ROYAL – Clouds over the Shenandoah River lifted in time Saturday for the fourth annual Waggin for Dragons Boat Race.

Sixteen teams consisting of community members and businesses competed to raise funds for the Warren County Humane Society as well to bring greater awareness of its efforts to save animals for adoption.

“This is our largest fundraiser of the year and we have to raise about $50,000,” said Lavenda Denney, Warren County Humane Society director. “This [fundraiser], it has played a significant role in allowing us to become a no-kill shelter.”

Hundreds of people, of all ages and attire, gathered along the shoreline of the main fork of the Shenandoah River to cheer on those who were participating in this year’s dragon boat races.

The Blew By You team members get their paddles in synch with team captains Doug Stanley and Amber Maricle. Ashley Miller/Daily

Each dragon boat holds 20 paddlers, one steer person and a drummer who keeps the beat for the rhythm of the paddlers. Teams must raise $2,000 by race day to compete. Following registration, teams come up with a unique team name, such as “Blue Wing Crew,” “River Dawgz,” “Miyagi’s Minions” and “The Underdogs.”

“Regardless of the outcome, all of the participants are heroes to the homeless animals of Warren County” said Denney.

Medals were awarded for the teams that came in first, second, and third, and awards were given to the team that raises the most money, and the team that displays the best team spirit.

The winners

• Coldwell Bankers Premier Paddlers won the Team Spirit award.

Katherine Collins, Jacob Gehly and Sara Catina, all of Front Royal, relax with their dogs Sawyer Mae and Leo after competing in their first Waggin for Dragons tournament. Ashley Miller/Daily

• The River Dawgs won Best Fundraising Team with $5,200.

In the race sponsored by Holiday Inn and Suites Blue Ridge Shadows for bronze and silver medals, the winners are:

• Good Neighbors (State Farm Insurance) won the gold medal.

• Blew By You (Warren County government) won the silver medal.

In the race sponsored by Warren County for the bronze medal, the winners are:

William and Nina Huck, of Front Royal and C&C Frozen Treats team members, dressed for the race. Ashley Miller/Daily

• Diesel the Country Dog (community team), bronze medal.

• We are Team VSC (Veterinary Surgical Center), second place in race for bronze.

In the race sponsored by the Town of Front Royal, the winners are:

• Premier Paddlers (Coldwell Banker Premier Properties), first place.

• Mountain Dwellers and Real Estate Sellers (High Knob community, Little Red Dog Pet Sitting and Waller Real Estate), second place.

Amber Maricle, of Front Royal, laughs with teammates as they prepare for their first dragon boat race on Saturday. Ashley Miller/Daily

• Team Royal (Town of Front Royal), third place.

Event sponsors included Petco, State Farm, Melting Pot Pizza, Target, Walmart, Rappahannock Electric Corp., Corrugated Box.

Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley welcomes everyone to the Waggin for Dragons fundraiser on the banks of the Shenandoah River. Ashley Miller/Daily

Cal Coolidge, of Lake Frederick, and his dog Max greet spectators to the fourth annual Waggin for Dragons event. Ashley Miller/Daily

Paddling a dragon boat for Team Rappahanock Electric are, from left, Cindy, Frank, Peyton and Garrett Music, of Falls Church. Ashley Miller/Daily

Two dragon boat teams paddle toward the finish line. Ashley Miller/Daily