Dragon boat races hit the Seaway Saturday, Aug. 9

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By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario - Cornwall WaterFest organizers aren't blowing smoke when they say this year's event is going to be epic.

WaterFest co-organizers Rebecca Runions (left) and Lynne Groulx hold the head of a dragon boat by the Cornwall Canal in the city's west end.

The fifth annual WaterFest in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation will be making a big splash at the historic Cornwall Canal on Saturday, August 9.

"WaterFest is all about fun family activities, boat racing, music, artists and saving lives," said Lynne Groulx, event co-organizer and the foundation's program coordinator.

WaterFest kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at the west end of the canal near the Kinsmen soccer fields.

Groulx and co-organizer Rebecca Runions guarantees the free event will offer something for everyone with dragon boat racing, a WaterFest Stage, ArtFest, delicious food vendors, mini-putt, and more.

The entertainment lineup includes the MacCulloch Dancers (10 a.m.), magician-mentalist-illusionist David Jans (10:30 a.m.), Zumba with Crystal (11 a.m.), singer/songwriter Graham Greer (11:30 a.m.)BCDC Dance Group (12:30 p.m.) Mandee Woods and Band (1:00 p.m.), Celtic Fidlin' with Rebecca (2 p.m.), Jody Marsolais - The Rhythm Room (3 p.m.), and the Keegan Larose Band (3:30 p.m.)

The proceeds raised from the event will go towards implementing Automated External Defibrillator (AEDs) throughout the area and life-saving Heart and Stroke research.

"This event helps to create awareness for the Foundation, it's a mix of advocacy and fundraising," said Groulx.

There are over 200 AEDs located across Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, as well as Prescott-Russell and Akwesasne.

"Last year, three local men were saved thanks to AEDs," said Groulx. "There are fathers, husbands and grandfathers that are still alive because of every donation we receive - no matter how small."

The opportunity to sign-up for the dragon boat races has already passed. But watching the race is almost as fun, according to Runions.

A total of 16 boats with glittery gold dragons baring their teeth will be racing over 200 metres across the St. Lawrence River. A team generally consists of 20 paddlers, a drummer at the bow and is guided by a steers-person at the stern.

"Each team will be rowing for the cause, camaraderie and bragging rights," said Runions.

The ArtFest component of the fundraising event starts at 9 a.m. It features over 25 local artists selling a huge gamut of wares.

Thousands of spectators are expected to pour in from across Ontario, western Quebec and the United States.

For more information, check www.facebook.com/CornwallWaterFest or visit cornwallwaterfest.ca.

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