Dragons on the waterPeople from across the Midwest convened on Barker’s Island on Aug. 24 for a test of speed, camaraderie and dedication.
By: Sarah Alabsi, Duluth Budgeteer News
People from across the Midwest convened on Barker’s Island on Aug. 24 for a test of speed, camaraderie and dedication.
The 12th annual Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival welcomed first-time paddlers and experienced racers alike for a weekend of competition, all for a good cause.
In all, 103 dragon boat teams competed in more than 15 different divisions with boat teams of similar backgrounds, including divisions for business, cancer survivors, and youth sports teams.
“We’re not too good, but we do it because it’s fun,” said Deb Hoff, a member of a breast cancer survivor sistership boat.
Boat teams included the Benedictine Flying Nuns from Benedictine Health, All Hounds on Deck from
Duluth East High School, Blood Dragons from Memorial Blood Centers and Noah’s Ark from the College of St. Scholastica.
Division winners included Windy City Dragons from Windy City Dragon Boat Club in Chicago, UMD Women’s Hockey and All Hounds on Deck.
Although dragon boat racing in the Northland is relatively new, the sport has had a long history in East Asia. Dragon boat racing can be traced back to legends more than 2,000 years old, according to the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival. The dragon, in ancient Chinese methodology, is said to represent water. In Chinese villages, boats were carved in dragon shapes and raced to curry favor with the rain gods who would bless them with rain and prevent misfortune.
In present-day Midwest America, however, this race is raced and watched from Barker’s Island as part of a festival which includes food, music, a crafts fair and awards ceremony.
The event is set up by the Harbortown Rotary Club, Superior Rotary Club 40 and Superior Sunrise Centennial Rotary Club. The event’s goal is to raise money for Twin Ports rotary club projects as well as the Essentia Health Foundation, all while providing the area with a fun and free event.