Competitors Gear Up For This Year’s Dragon Boat Festival
Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race. For the 12th Annual Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival, there’s a need for speed.
“It’s worked out perfect to bring the event to Bemidji,” said Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival Co-Chair Rosie Berg. “We just knew it was something our community could and would love to have.”
Spectators arrived at the Lake Bemidji waterfront to watch teams practice before the race tomorrow.
“It’s a fun time to get together with friends, family and co-workers,” said Berg. “Maybe strangers that you’ve never met before and they’re on your team. You can meet people from all over the world.”
One team, the Midco Muskies, is back for a seventh year. Comprised of Midco employees and their spouses, they only got in one practice before the race, but are confident.
“The last three years we’ve really had the same people every year, then the competition part comes in, said Cole Mack of the Midco Muskies. “It’s a little more fun, you get a little better each year, you try harder and a little more detailed. So I think a lot of it is experience and everybody enjoys the festival, so it’s easy to get them to come back.”
Each boat has room for 20 paddlers, one steersmen and a drummer. Drummers are instrumental in keeping the pace of the race.
“They all row to my drum; we have to keep the pace,” said Tabby Mack of Midco Muskies. “We need to all be in sync when we’re rowing, so they row to that beat.”
The Dragon Boat Festival is more than just a boat competition.
“The event is a fundraiser for a whole bunch of different organizations as well,” said Berg. We have our Wednesday taco feed, Thursday Cornhole Tournament and Friday night, tonight, we have the Dondelinger Sprint Cup Races.”
There are prizes for just about everything including best team name and best team village, where all the teams can hangout and they decorate a tent to show their team spirit.
“This is the best weekend in Bemidji the entire year,” said Michael Meehlhause of First City Crew. “The First City Crew is going to take home the Civic Cup. We run this town!”
For Kendra Martinez of Scurvy Stitchers, she enjoys the tent decorating. The team wants to do well on the lake, but best team village is something they take a lot of pride in. After all, they’ve won the award before.
“We sew for a living, we play with fabric everyday,” said Martinez. “We took some clean, white fabric and we made it beautiful looking dirty from the sea.”
New this year is the challenge cup. It’ll feature a Battle of the Badges Race where the local Fire, police and ambulance service will compete.