Dragon Boat Frenzy Includes Very Nearly 3,000 Fans

The community has responded, and the West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race is here to stay. That’s the message.

At Saturday’s second annual race at Pyne Road Park, 28 teams and almost 3,000 fans filled the parking lot and lake. The spectators kept on coming, too.

If there is a game be played or a race to be won, La-Grange is interested. Sign them up. This is a sports oriented community.

“We got more (fans) than we expected, and the teams were out here since 6:45,” said Michele Bedingfield, an early morning riser and the director of the race.

Dragon boat teams from Atlanta to LaGrange and West Point included were there to compete, hydrate and look for some shade under the team tent.

“It’s buzzing out here. The races are intense and tough, but it’s fun doing it with your friends,” said Brittany Hutchinson, who was a member of the Ag-South Farm Credit and Go Realty team.

Alan Music of Atlanta was playing a similar tune. Music competed with Dragon Boat Atlanta. There were 20 paddlers between the dragon’s head and the dragon’s tail on the long and skinny boat.

“This is a great team sport. It feels like you’re running a marathon. You have to be in sync. It is exhilarating,” said Music. “We have a lot of good teams and good times.”

Matt Mayfield of La-Grange was on board with all of this, including the non-stop races. Concentration was a must for the competitors, along with something cool to drink afterwards. Some of the overheated paddlers even jumped off the dock after their race.

It was hot out there on the lake for sure, and Mayfield was totally into it.

“My heart was fluttering, and I have a competitive streak. It was crowded (in the boat), but we were having fun. We were working together,” said Mayfield, a sheriff’s deputy in Troup County.

On this off day, however, Mayfield rowed for the Junior Service League of LaGrange. Ashley Mayfield also sat behind her husband with a paddle in her hands and winning in her heart.

Sam Davis did his fair share of rowing, too, with a team from LaGrange Grocery.

“I was getting motivated. We won our last race, and we were second in our first one,” Davis said during a break in the action on Saturday afternoon. “We’re trying to win.”

And according to Davis, “Dragon boat racing is a growing thing and a team thing.”

Brooke Kirkendall of LaGrange was also flexing her rowing muscles on West Point Lake. As a member of the Junior Service League team, Kirkendall was doing her best while keeping her timing down and her heart rate up.

“You have to work together. This is intense and competitive,” said Kirkendall.

The 2nd Annual West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race was a fundraiser for the Harmony House Domestic Violence Center.