The Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival

By KBJR News 1

August 23, 2012 Updated Aug 23, 2012 at 3:22 PM CDT

The Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival kicks off in Superior this Friday.

Community members are coming together to raise money for local organizations.

"Oh, the whole thing. The getting wet, the competition, the camaraderie—the playing smack. Yes, it is just a lot of fun," Sean Jorgensen, a dragon boater, said.

The Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival is celebrating its 11th year in operation this weekend.

"It's a great family event. We just love to hang out all day long. We look forward to it every year," Judy Aspling, a dragon boater, said.

The mission of the event is to raise funds for local organizations.

"We have a number of co–workers and significant others and friends of the group. It's just a nice mix of women and men and we're having a great time," Judy Aspling, a dragon boater, said.

The opening of the festivities begins on Friday, which includes live music and fireworks.

"Racing starts right away on Saturday and runs all through the day," Joe Radtke, a Twin Ports Rotary Club member, said.

There are 104 dragon boat teams registered, which is the most in the history of the event.

So aside from the friendly competition, what is a dragon boater?

"What is a dragon boater. Well, first, it's a paddler not a rower. Sometimes us paddlers get a little touch about that so we are paddlers and not rowers," Megan Kress, a dragon boat organizer, said.

Megan says a dragon boat paddler is one of 22 people in a boat.

"There's 20 paddlers. There's a drummer that sits up front that helps keep the rhythm and motivates the team. And then there is a steers person on the back of the boat," Megan Kress, a dragon boat organizer, said.

But the main goal, Megan says, is to get the teams to the finish line safely.

Each of the teams are working to raise money for the Essentia Health Foundation and the Twin Ports Rotary Clubs.

"This is an entirely different method of propelling a boat. Dragon Boating is a sport of itself. So, you just do this once a year and we're done," Judy Aspling, a dragon boater, said.

The best part of the day?

"Hangin out. Yeah, the fun. Enjoying the fun. Just the spending time with each other and a day on the water," Sean Jorgensen, a dragon boater, said.

The event is free and open to the public all weekend.

Written and posted by Justin Reis, NNC. jreis@northlandsnewscenter.com

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