Friday, July 31, 2015

Dragon boats invite U.S. teams

With organizers gearing up to the make the third-annual Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival the best one yet, a challenge has been thrown out to get teams from south of the border involved this Canada Day.
“This year, we’d like to make it even bigger and even better, and the best way to do that is create an international event,” Dragon Boat Club member Cathy Tysz told community leaders at a cross-border brainstorming session last Wednesday at the AmericInn in International Falls.

“It was always my thought that it would be perfect if the Falls Broncos challenged the Muskies, if the girls’ hockey teams challenged the boys’ hockey teams, if the high schools challenged each other,” Tysz added.
“Where we live, it just makes sense to share the water with International Falls,” she later noted.
Tysz said the dragon boat festival is an opportunity to promote community spirit and healthy living, is a team-building exercise, and is an excellent fundraiser for charities (teams can paddle for their own charity).
Last year saw a total of 13 teams (195 paddlers) participate, and drew about 1,500 spectators along the upper Rainy River.
The event also included food vendors, craft vendors, visual art displays, and a children’s area.
Tysz explained a dragon boat is basically “a really long canoe,” which is about 40 feet long and four feet wide.
Ten rows of seats allow 20 paddlers to sit side-by-side, with a drummer sitting in the front of the boat and a steers person in the back.
Teams of 15 participate in 250-metre sprints on the river.
There must be a minimum of five females per team (so this would mean male sports teams would to have at least five of their female counterparts participating) and one drummer.
Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce manager Annely Armstrong was on a dragon boat team last year.
She noted that the 2013 winning team, “Dragon’s Breath” (Fort Frances Dental Centre), was not necessarily the biggest or strongest team, but was the one that worked together the best.
Paddlers aged 14-18 require a guardian’s signature.
The cost is $25 per­ person to register (this fee covers event costs).
Businesses can register a team for $550, as well as make donations (cash or in-kind services) to the dragon boat festival in three levels of sponsorship (bronze, silver, and gold).
Business and other groups can register as a team. Or if someone registers as an individual, organizers will find a spot for them on a team.
The Dragon Boat Club works with promoters “22 Dragons” from Montreal, who bring in professionals and boats for the Canada Day event.
Tysz noted it’s never too early to get involved with this year’s Dragon Boat Festival.
For more information, call her or Sarah Marusyk at 274-2282 or e-mail
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