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—Illustration by Colin Hayes

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival Turns 15

Inside one of Denver’s most popular summer events.

Denver was down with dragons way before HBO’s Game of Thrones made them cool again. Although only 15,000 people showed up to the first Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (CDBF) in 2001, attendance has exploded over the past 15 years: Some 125,000 spectators turned out last year to Sloan’s Lake to watch dozens of teams paddle it out in a floating Belmont Stakes. The races may be the main attraction, but CDBF, July 18 to 19, mixes the drama of competition with music, dance, food, and crafts representing approximately 15 Asian cultures. Here’s what you need to know about one of the summer’s most popular cultural festivals.

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