A Dragon Fest Celebration To-Do List: Make “Naked Rosemary Lemonade” and Join a Dragon Boat Racing Team

Gate into the International District in Seattle, WA, Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Throw down a steady, pulsing drum beat in a crowded street and I’ll take off running after it—like I escaped from the set of a spectacularly low-budget, low-expectations community theater rendition of Fame.

“Could you take it down a notch? Maybe not end up in the parade this time?” Nate asks when we arrive at Dragon Fest, a pan-Asian celebration in the International District in Seattle.

“I’ll try. I’ll really try hard, but I can’t make any promises.”

“Umm—Mom? Just in case I know anyone here, could you try harder than that?”

I tell Alex I will, but I also remind my son and husband that I’m not that bad, really– compared to what we saw just before we boarded the 512 bus on our way here: A very lively man, who was wearing a long coat and some kind of hat, rode right up to the bus stop on a bicycle and entertained us with “words of wisdom” that weren’t really appropriate for a crowd of men, women, and children. He started with an animated “Party! Party! Party!” to get our attention and then the performance just went downhill from there.

“At least I don’t try to randomly entertain crowds with inappropriate advice,” I remind them. “At least I don’t do that.

Nate gives me a look that says, “That’s not even the same thing! How could you even make that kind of comparison?”

It’s too hot to embarrass my family anyway, so we watch some performers in dragon costumes go by and then, we stop by various booths, including the booth for the Sunrise Dragon Boat team, which is comprised of “young professionals in their 20s and 30s.” The man running the booth is extremely friendly and enthusiastic in his effort to get us to consider joining the team, but not one of us in our group looks like we are in our 20s or 30s. Alex looks like a teenager and Nate and I—well, we’re holding it together, but whatever “it” is could fall apart at any moment and I suspect it shows through the black hairspray I use between hair colorings. (On a side note: A server at the Wenatchee Olive Garden complimented me on my hair color and I had to stop myself from shouting, “This hair color is comes in a can! It’s part of my touch-up routine! I can spray your hair in the bathroom right now!”)

In any case, I can’t figure out why the man in the booth for the Sunrise Dragon Boat team spends so much time encouraging us to consider joining. But then, I let myself dream: Could I go paddling about the Puget Sound in a dragon-shaped boat? Could I pass for someone in her 20s/30s? Could I pass for a professional? Oh, how I would love to try! I can just imagine what I’d say on the first day of practice:

“Hi, my name’s Cecilia. I don’t have any upper body strength and, after five minutes of paddling a kayak, I get tuckered out and my stomach growls really loud. Then, I try to get people to pull the boat over for grilled cheese. Can I be on your team?”

Just thinking about being on that dragon boat team makes my stomach growl, so we head straight to lunch at Ironsteak. Ironsteak is a “DIY Teppanyaki” experience in which the food comes to the table sizzling on a skillet, and you get to mix in the sauces and finish the cooking. Our meals are fresh and tasty, but the highlight is some rosemary lemonade the owners have on hand just for this festival. This lemonade is so refreshing that I attempt to recreate the experience at home, without even asking for a recipe or trying to find one on the internet. It seems to me that if I think I can show up to a dragon boat team racing group and just wing it, what’s to stop me from going to Haggen’s and buying lemon juice? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So, brave readers, here is my “Naked Rosemary Lemonade.” (The “naked” part just means I don’t have a recipe. I’m really, really trying hard NOT to embarrass Nate and Alex.)


–4 oz of lemon juice—either freshly squeezed or from those little plastic lemon bottles. (I used the plastic lemon bottle juice in order to save my energy for dragon boat racing/tryouts.)

–1/4 cup of honey

–1/2 cup granulated sugar

–1 sprig of rosemary

–1 gallon of water


Mix together the honey, sugar, and water. Add the sprig of rosemary and keep the concoction in the refrigerator for about 4-8 hours. Remove the sprig—or keep it in longer for more flavor.

Result: The lemonade does not taste exactly like the kind we had at Ironsteak, but it’s still pretty refreshing on a hot day. It hits the spot, while dreaming of becoming the Most Valuable Player on the Sunrise Dragon Boat team.

Your Turn: Have you been to any great festivals or fairs lately? If so, what was the festival/fair and what was your favorite thing to do or eat?








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