Canal Park and the Grand River will play host to the Global Water Fest GR from 9:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 25, at 941 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.
The festival is free with numerous activities, including dragon boat races, paddle boarding lessons and professional watercraft demonstrations, along with international food, live music and entertainment.
Beginning at 9:30 a.m., the water will be blessed by Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe/Gun Lake Pottawatomi elder Punkin Shananaquet, an awakening of the dragons by Buddhist representatives and a lion dance performance.
“Water has been celebrated throughout time and place. From necessity to playful, water supports communities while restoring life in those who drink it or live near its sources,” said Ace Marasigan, Global Water Fest GR event creator. “We look forward to activating the Grand River while showcasing various global cultures that celebrate the water. We hope to bring people together, mend fences and support community relationships.”
Teams from South Haven and Lansing will be competing in the professional dragon boat race. Eight additional amateur dragon boat teams will compete in a tournament-style paddle race. The races will begin every 30 minutes throughout the day, with a medal ceremony at 5:30 p.m. The boats will be provided by the South Haven Dragon Boat Association.
There will be more than 17 international food vendors onsite. Adult beverages will be available to purchase from local businesses including City Built Brewing Company, Linear Restaurant and Speak EZ Lounge. A tent and social area will be available at Canal Park.
“This water festival is first-of-its-kind in the Grand Rapids area and helps advance on our goal of activating the Grand River and making the waterway an asset to our community,” said Kim Van Driel, director of public space activation, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. “We look forward to seeing people enjoy this diverse programming and plan to organize even more events and activities that invite people to enjoy downtown’s public spaces — particularly our Grand River — in the near future.”