Dragon Boat Festival Positively Impacts Superior Businesses

By KBJR News 1

August 24, 2013 Updated Aug 24, 2013 at 1:44 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Organizers expect to see an impact of more than $1,000,000 from this weekend's 12th annual Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival on Barker's Island in Superior.

Dave Minor, CEO of the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce, says 8-10,000 spectators are expected to attend the one day festival.

"We have a lot of folks that come into town," said Jim Kehoe, festival information director.

The event has always been dedicated to raising money for the Twin Ports Rotary Clubs and the Essentia Health Foundation.

"When people come down here they don't always understand that they're actually participating in giving to charity 'cause we're a free family fun event," said Kehoe.

Festival organizers say that giving back, is the best part.

"The fun thing is you do see that you're making a difference," said Scott Soderberg, festival MC.

Combining the number of area residents attending the event, with the number of paddlers and day visitors, the rotary is projecting an income of about $1.2 million.

"What I'm most excited about is the fact that we bring money to charities," said Kehoe.

Local businesses have also seen an economic impact.

"Our staff marks Dragon Boat Festival on the calendar every year. It's our biggest weekend of the year... it's our biggest event," said Charlie Johnson, General Manager of Barkers Island Inn.

Not only does the festival raise over $1,000,000 but it also has benefits for some of the local vendors.

"It gives you a little extra money to go to Florida or pay your taxes," said Robert Christman, corn dog stand vendor.

The fun begins tonight with entertainment at the Island.

"We have a great band tonight, Mynx, and by the way they're donating their time. The lead singer is a Rotarian, which is a huge deal so that just brings in more donations for rotary," said Soderberg.

Races will begin Saturday morning at 8, which is when the real excitement begins.

"The energy is just really infectious," said Joe Radtke, General Manager of Barkers Island Marina.

Festivities will continue all day Saturday.

Organizers say it's a perfect way to have fun spending quality time with friends and family while supporting an important cause.

Elsa Robins