Facebook and Twitter boost for Downham Market Water Festival

A social media campaign has helped to generate an unprecedented amount of interest in this year's Downham Market Water Festival.

So far, 12 teams have confirmed their place in the Dragon Boat racing competition at the festival on August 5, which is again being sponsored by the EDP

But Sarah Mawby, the town council's events co-ordinator, said a record number of 50 application forms have also been sent out – thanks mainly to the festival's new Facebook and Twitter accounts.

'We have never used either of these [websites] before so this year was a trial to see if either or both would help and they really have helped to generate interest,' she said.

'As well as encouraging people to register a team, they have encouraged people to interact with us throughout the planning process which is great because we want people to feel more connected to this massive event.'

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She added: 'We are looking to secure a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 28 teams and we are on track to do this which is great but there are still boats available if people want to sign up.'

The popular event, now in its sixth year, has gone from strength to strength since it was launched. Last year more than 3,000 people enjoyed the sunshine and stalls as 19 teams battled to rule the waves close to the Hythe Bridge on the Relief Channel.

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Teams can be made up of between six and 15 paddlers and a drummer and team entry costs �150.

Each team has three races from which to record their two best times and the top eight teams with the quickest times then battle it out over the 100-metre course for a place in the final.

The festival is free for spectators, who can enjoy lots of activities on the riverbank, including stalls and a funfair, as well as watching the racing. There will also be more displays at this year's event to encourage healthier lifestyles.

Many of the boats are beautifully decorated, traditionally as dragons, and the event has a history extending back more than 2,000 years throughout Asia.

Duen Ng was traditionally a day of national holiday and festivity and was always associated with the propitious 'double fifth', the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

To view the festival's Facebook or Twitter pages, click the links at the top of this page.

For more information email sarah@downhammarkettc.co.uk or call 01366 387770.

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