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Dragon boat races, festival may be returning to St. Charles next summer

Dragon Boat RaceDaily Herald File Photo

Dragon boat races may be making a comeback to St. Charles this summer as part of a new Heart of the Fox festival.

When a community festival disappears – either to take a short hiatus or simply because its time had come and gone because of finances, manpower or lack of community interest – you tend to forget about it.

It hasn't been that long since the Pride of the Fox RiverFest in St. Charles called for a timeout. This summer event has undergone a few changes over the years, but it's been "gone" only one year.

At least part of it may be making a comeback as the St. Charles River Corridor Foundation and St. Charles Kiwanis continue planning for their family-oriented Heart of the Fox event that, in effect, took the calendar spot in early summer that Pride of the Fox RiverFest once held.

The dragon boat races stood out during Pride of the Fox RiverFest, creating a competitive and entertaining part of the festival right on the Fox River in the Pottawatomie Park area. Those races and all of the hooting and hollering that came with them appear ready for a comeback.

It's a little early to fully blow the bugles on this, but we can blow a small horn as contracts have to be worked out and signed off on. But Heart of the Fox planner John Rabchuk feels confident about how next summer's festival is falling into place.

"Contracts aren't signed yet, but they are in the works," Rabchuk said. "We will be contracting with the Pride of the Fox organization to run the dragon boat races as part of our overall Heart of the Fox event."

Even with the addition of the dragon boat races, festival planners are juggling things to the point it takes on a rebranding of sorts for Heart of the Fox.

"We eliminated the tug-of-war because we just couldn't get enough teams to make it a contest," Rabchuk said. With that event sidelined, festival planners are focusing on Heart of the Fox with an emphasis on "Family Fun Along the Fox." That aspect would remain under the Heart of the Fox umbrella, Rabchuk added.

How that will look with the umbrella completely opened remains to be seen, but we can tell from chatting with Rabchuk that plenty of family events will be highlighted and expanded.

In addition, the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce will operate its annual Health and Wellness Fair as part of the summer event.

Rabchuk hinted at some other "surprises" regarding both land and water events.

As much as anything, festival planners want Heart of the Fox to have a different look and feel than other summer festivals.

"We hope to keep building it up as a community family event without beer tents and funnel cakes," Rabchuk said.

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