The festival celebrates Asian cultures, diversity, ethnicity, roots and history. A large part of the festival is the Dragon Boat Festival Race, an exciting team competition. An important part of the Chinese traditional calendar, dragon boat racing originated over 2,300 years ago on the life-sustaining rivers of southern China. The Charlotte race is an open competition to anyone 15 years of age or older. The Asian Music and Dance Fest is a competitive showcase of Asian talents, open to Asian Americans of all ages. It encompasses all categories of the performing arts: traditional and contemporary vocal and instrumental music performances and folk and modern dance.