Many sporting events have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one of the area’s most popular outdoor activities is ending for another reason.
The Dragon Boat Festival hosted by Fuse Project had become an incredibly popular fundraiser on both sides of Mobile Bay. Started in 2014, it had grown into one of the largest Hong Kong-style boat races in the United States.
However, the 2019 event has turned out to be the final chapter in this saga. The organizers have decided to go in another direction to support their projects.
“It was a great community event, but after six years and various other reasons, it was just time for a change,” Ann-Brooks Morrissette, executive director of Fuse Project, told Lagniappe. “But we are thrilled to introduce a new event to our community — an annual Lip Sync Battle to take place during Senior Bowl Week, with next year’s event scheduled for January 28, 2021.
“This event will be in a much cooler climate and will offer another unique experience for those who participate in the battle, as well as those who come to cheer the performances on.”
The Dragon Boat Race took place at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park after having outgrown the original facilities used at Five Rivers Delta Resource Center. Massive crowds composed of competitors, friends and family would attend. The Dragon Boat Race often raised more than $200,000.
The inaugural Lip Sync Battle was well received. It took place January 23 at the Soul Kitchen Music Hall in downtown Mobile. According to its Facebook page, “Select teams will bring their best to perform for a purpose before a panel of judges and their peers. Besides supporting an important local cause, this event will include an evening full of live performances, special guests, all-star entertainment and drink specials in a casual, fun environment! Investing in transformational change. Investing in children.”
Since forming in 2012, Fuse Project has supported numerous causes that promote health, fitness, education and social responsibility of children in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
Soccer season cancelled
The 2020 summer season was set to be AFC Mobile’s first year in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) after competing for three seasons in the Gulf Coast Premier League. However, league officials have now cancelled all action because of COVID-19.
“Earlier this week, USASA (United States Adult Soccer Association) has extended its ban on soccer activity until April 30, and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) last week has recommended there be no group activities for eight weeks, which coordinates with May 10,” said Kenneth Farrell, NPSL Chairman. “Given these circumstances, the 2020 NPSL summer season, under its current competition structure, has been canceled.”
AFC Mobile hopes to continue its summer training and youth programs, including its annual free youth training camp, when and if it becomes safe and practical.
“I’m devastated for our players and fans, who were going to have an opportunity to show what Mobile is really made of,” Sean Landry, AFC Mobile board member and CFO, told Lagniappe. “What’s most important, ultimately, is that they and everyone in our community stays as safe as possible.
“The team we had put together for 2020 was truly top class, and we were excited to compete for Mobile in the NPSL this season — particularly against the New Orleans Jesters, an accomplished team from our little sister city.”
Landry said while this decision is difficult for them as competitors in the short term, it helps ensure that they will be in Mobile for the long run, when the people are ready to gather to celebrate.
“We’re not an investment group with the ability to bankroll a summer with no fans in the stands while we wait for some big payday in some other city,” Landry said. “We’re a locally owned small business, dedicated to Mobile. And like many of our small business neighbors, we’re taking a pause now to ensure we’ll be around for years to come.
“It’ll be an extra-long offseason for us, but like any offseason, we’re hard at work on the next big step for us as a club.”
AFC Mobile officials said through April 20 they are donating 20 percent of all sales made in their club shop to Feeding the Gulf Coast, which partners with more than 400 agencies to distribute more than 20 million pounds of food annually to the 24-county service area through the food bank’s hunger-relief programs. The merchandise listings can be found at afcmobile.net/shop.
Dauphin Island Race postponed
The 62nd annual Dauphin Island Race (DIR), originally set for April 24-26, has been officially postponed and rescheduled for June 12-14.
As this year’s host, Buccaneer Yacht Club and the DIR 2020 Committee will continue to monitor and follow public directives pertaining to minimizing risks associated with the spread of COVID-19. The organizers do acknowledge the possibility that a further reschedule could be warranted if conditions have not improved.
“As Buccaneers, though, we look to the future horizon with hope and excitement for clear skies, fair winds, following seas and courageous companions. And rum (for cleansing purposes, of course). Aaargh!” the committee added in the announcement.
Registration for this year’s race is open and can be found at bucyc.com/dauphin-island-race.
The Spring Hill College (SHC) women’s cross-country team successfully defended their Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) crown at the Winthrop Farm Cross Country Course in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Badgers finished with a total of 35 points and a combined team time of 1:43:30 over the 5,000-meter course.
Freshman Madeline Knightly earned a spot on the SIAC all-conference team with a second-place finish individually in a time of 20:04.3. Also appearing on the all-conference roster were senior Meghan Sullivan in third place at 20:07.9, and junior Grace McCann in fifth place and a time of 20:38.
The team went on to finish 15th at the NCAA Division II South Region Championships hosted by Florida Southern College.
The SHC men’s cross-country team finished second at the SIAC Championships at Winthrop Farm. Senior Joe Butler earned a spot on the SIAC all-conference roster with a seventh-place finish in a time of 27:17.9.
The runner-up spot qualified the Badgers to appear in the NCAA South Region Championships for the first time in program history. SHC finished in 20th place.
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