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Asian flavors fill shores of Lake Lanier at Dragon Boat Festival
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There will be 16 corporate teams joining to race at the 2017 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival for their companies, as well as collegiate, high school, nonprofit and cancer survivor teams.

A wide array of flavorful fare is featured as historic replica boats are paddled Sept. 9 on Lake Lanier . 

Cambodian skewers, grilled squid, Hawaiian shaved ice and Vietnamese sandwiches are on the globally-inspired menu for the Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival held 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

When: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9
Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville
How much: Free admission

Food vendors

  • Lucky Coconut Thai Food, Riverdale: Thai street food
  • Thai Food, Gastonia: Thai cuisine
  • Thai Gift Shop, Riverdale: Thai cuisine
  • Cambodian American Association of Georgia, Kennesaw: Cambodian cuisine
  • Vietnamese American Community, Norcross: Vietnamese cuisine
  • LAO Street Foods, Winder: Lao street food
  • Mini Asian Market, Cornelia: Asian cuisine
  • Tiki Café, Buford: Hawaiian cuisine
  • Huli, Atlanta: Vegetarian/vegan multi-cuisine
  • Loving Hut, Atlanta: International vegan fast food
  • El Tacoman: authentic Mexican street tacos
  • Pico’s Hot Dogs: American hot dogs
  • Lemon Smashers, Decatur: Lemonade
  • Kona Ice, Buford: Hawaiian style shaved ice
  • Snowie Days Shaved Ice, Lawrenceville: Shaved ice

“The annual Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is Georgia’s biggest Hong Kong cultural event of the year,” said Tracy Barth, president of the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club. “ It attracts thousands of competitors and spectators from diverse ethnicities to come together in one place and be a part of a multicultural celebration rooted in ancient Chinese tradition.”

Barth said attendees can expect to witness authentic, cultural performances during the opening ceremonies and indulge in cuisine traditionally served in Hong Kong and countries around the world.  

“Festival attendees have grown to love the festive atmosphere that is created by the smells of exotic cuisine rarely served near the shores of Lake Lanier,” she said. “For first-time festival-goers and for those who aren’t willing to try new dishes, we have some local favorites that are sure to please.”

From near and far, food vendors travel to partake in the day’s festivities, offering up their spin on traditional items.

“This is our first year so we don’t know what to expect. This looks like an interesting event,” Tiki Café owner Steven Pittman said. “We are new. … We opened at the beginning of this year. We were told by a few people that this would be a good opportunity for us since we are a small restaurant and need exposure.” 

The Tiki Café will be serving a Hawaiian lunch plate including rice, macaroni salad, Hawaiian barbecue chicken, beef or ribs and Hawaiian shaved ice.

“We are a taste of traditional Hawaiian food,” Pittman said. 

In their first year being a vendor at the event, Lucky Coconut Thai Food will have Thai street food “with a twist,” according to owner Cindy Tannavong.

They will have gia yang, marinated chicken on a skewer; grilled squid with special sauce; grilled sai oua, traditional pork sausages stuffed with herbs; khao gee, sweet sticky rice marinated with eggs and special sauce and grilled on a stick; papaya salad; ka lap pow, steamed dumplings; and fried banana chips.

“My favorite thing about the festival is the competitiveness of the teams … the calmness and sounds of the water,” she said. “I love how people come about forming the teams and you see a bonding like no other. The smiles of people from every ethnicity coming together and celebrating just life.”

Thai Food of Gastonia will have sugar cane juice, coconut juice, Thai ice cream rolls, Vietnamese sandwiches, beef jerky, sweet rice with steamed banana, grilled sweet rice with banana, chicken sticks, pork sticks and sticky rice.

The Cambodian American Association of Georgia will have a variety of skewers including beef, chicken and pineapple, according to co-founder of the association Sopheap Lam.

“Over the years, Gene Hanratty, founder and festival organizer, along with the local organizing committee from the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, have sought to attract diversified teams that could be a part of an amazing team-building experience for various age groups,” Barth said.  

There will be 16 corporate teams joining to race for their companies, as well as collegiate, high school, nonprofit and cancer survivor teams.  

“Teams come for the day with their families, and as such, we want to be able to offer them traditional street foods, arts and crafts and activities,” Barth said. “An event of this magnitude takes around 200 volunteers who put in countless hours to make it a success.”