Flood won't foil Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival

The 11th annual Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival kicks off Friday on Barker's Island despite a 50 percent reduction in vehicle access due to flood damage.

With Fairlawn Museum as a backdrop, a dragon boat and crew paddle back to the dock after finishing a race during the 2011 Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival. 2011 file / News Tribune

The 11th annual Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival kicks off Friday on Barker's Island despite a 50 percent reduction in vehicle access due to flood damage.

"Organizers have conscientiously and carefully planned adjustments," said Mary Morgan, Superior Parks and Recreation administrator.

"I think we've got a pretty good flow," said John Lohse, site supervisor for the festival. He said it includes a lot of right turns. To get to the island, vehicles must be northbound on East Second Street. Vehicles leaving the island can only turn right toward Belknap Street. No cross traffic will be allowed.

A record 105 teams have registered for this year's race, Lohse said. The festivities include a team parade at 6 p.m. Friday followed by an opening ceremony, the music of Mynx, fireworks at dusk and the sounds of

Crescent Moon from 10-11 p.m.


Saturday kicks off with a Superior Optimist pancake breakfast at 7 a.m., with races scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free entertainment for the day includes a magic show, sword demonstrations, dancers and musical entertainment. Free children's activities provided by the Kiwanis Club run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"It's a free event for the whole family," Lohse said. "We work very hard to

include the children."

Members of the Superior Police Auxiliary will be on hand to assist with pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow.

The speed limit on East Second Street will be reduced to 25 mph from Belknap Street to 18th Avenue East on Friday and Saturday, and pedestrians will be allowed to cross the highway only at Belknap Street or Ninth Avenue East. Barker's Island Inn, Barker's Island Marina, the Ship's Store and Charter Fishing remain open to the public as well as the SS Meteor, Captain J's Miniature Golf and the offices of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Morgan said.

Since its inception, the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival has raised more than $1 million for Northland communities. Rowers raise pledges that support cancer programs through the Essentia Health Foundation. Last year, Lohse said, money raised supported a liaison who helped cancer patients navigate the health-care system. Entry fees and sales during the festival are split between the festival organizers -- Superior Rotary, Duluth's Harbortown Rotary and Superior Sunrise Centennial Rotary clubs -- and given out as grants to local organizations.

"One hundred percent of funds raised go back to the community," said Lohse, a member of Superior Rotary Club.

A date for the reopening of the flood-damaged branch of Marina Drive has not been set. The city has chosen a design option that will reduce culvert headwater in Central Park, said Assistant Director of Public Works Todd Janigo. In the wake of the June 20 flooding, the change will benefit neighborhoods along the waterway, Morgan said.


"We feel that's the responsible thing to do," she said.

Construction on the culvert replacement will begin once the option has received Department of Natural Resources approval, Janigo said.


Spectators can park at the Mariner Mall and take a free shuttle bus to the island. The shuttle will be available on the south side of the mall near Ember's Restaurant from 4 to 11:59 p.m. Aug. 24 and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 25. Accessible handicap transportation onto the island is available from the fishing platform on the mainland, which is designated for handicap parking. Although race participants are allowed to park in the green space adjacent to Second Avenue East, Lohse encouraged them to take the free shuttle bus, which runs every seven minutes.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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