The dragons are comingSay the words “dragon boats” and the place you’re quite likely to conjure up is… Superior. Although the boats with their figureheads pay homage to their roots in China, the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival on Barker’s Island is one of the largest races of its kind in the country.
Say the words “dragon boats” and the place you’re quite likely to conjure up is… Superior. Although the boats with their figureheads pay homage to their roots in China, the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival on Barker’s Island is one of the largest races of its kind in the country.
More than a hundred racing teams from across the United States and Canada are scheduled to compete during the Aug. 24 and 25 event, which will also see food vendors, live bands, fireworks, and entertainment for the whole family. Profits will go back to the community that the Rotary serves, said Doug Melander of the Harbortown Rotary, one of the sponsors of the race.
“Essentia Health receives pledges from the paddlers in the boat, with the proceeds going to primarily cancer research,” Melander told the Budgeteer. “The dollars stay local.”
Charity Rupp, Essentia Health’s director of Annual Giving and Special Events, elaborated on that.
“The Dragon Boat Festival has a huge impact on the community, especially in Superior,” she said. “It puts the city on the map and has been considered one of the biggest festivals in the entire country.”
The whole festival is family-oriented, Melander said, so racers aren’t the only ones who have fun. “There is something for all ages.”
The festival brings professional and amateur racers from across the country and even outside the country. Competitors range from corporate-sponsored teams to family teams and teams comprised of cancer survivors. Four lanes race at a time,
with each boat holding 22 people — 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a steersperson.
“The races themselves are by far the most exciting,” he said. “It’s wild the number of people on the island.”
The band Mynx plays on the Main Stage from 6:45 until 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, followed up with fireworks at 8:50 p.m., and live music from Crescent Moon at 10 p.m.
The event starts on Friday at 5 p.m. with the team parade starting at 6 p.m. The races begin Saturday at 8 a.m. and run until 4 p.m.
“This is just such a big event and encompasses so many areas,” Melander said. “People keep coming back to participate year after year.”
For more information about the Dragon Boat Festival, visit www.lakesuperior-