More than 2,500 rowers gathered at the Corona Park in New York City’s Queens borough on Saturday to kick off the 29th Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, the largest of its kind in the US.

Over 200 teams from the Greater New York area joined this year’s two-day competition of various divisions including the Regular Mixed, Municipal Invitational and Charity race.

For the first time, a Regular Women’s Division has been added to the festival.

Henry Wan, chairman of the festival host committee, told the Xinhua News Agency that the festival, which started with only 10 teams, has endeavored to promote Chinese culture in New York through sports and has won great support from local communities.

“Traditional Chinese culture is deep and sophisticated. So we believe it’s easier to make people of other ethnic groups learn about it through sports like boat-racing, because a lot of people love sports,” said Wan.

Besides cheering for the rowers paddling through the water, thousands of viewers could also enjoy performances including traditional lion and dragon dances, music, storytelling, and martial arts.

A food court was also set up on the bank offering various Chinese dishes including dumplings and fried rice, as well as South American, Indian and other cuisines.