Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dragon boat festival set to go

After being postponed from its original Canada Day date, the third-annual Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival is set to go this Saturday (Aug. 9).
“Things are coming together,” said Annely Armstrong-Thorstad, who is secretary/treasurer for the organizing committee.

“We’ve got a lot of teams but now we have to back-fill with all the individual paddlers,” she noted.
But Armstrong-Thorstad also stressed it’s still not too late to sign up.
“If individuals want to join in, we will find them a team,” she pledged, noting it costs $35 for an individual to participate.
Meanwhile, practices will start today and run through Friday for those teams that want to get out on the water and give it a try before Saturday’s event.
Armstrong-Thorstad said the practice schedule will be posted at www.boundarywatersdragonboat.com, which is the club’s new website that was just launched.
“We are really excited,” she enthused, adding the two dragon boats are in the water and ready to go.
The event was unable to be held on Canada Day due to the high water and strong current of the upper Rainy River. But it seems all is now well for the festival to proceed.
“We went out for a paddle this weekend and there will be no problems,” Armstrong-Thorstad said.
“I was able to control the boat myself so even with a boatload of inexperienced paddlers, it’s not a big deal,” she noted.
“They’ll be able to stay in control.”
As well, a member of the group 22 Dragons, a professional club that specializes in event planning and team-building, will be in each boat to help steer it during Saturday’s races.
Al Boivin’s Rainy Lake Boat Taxi also will be on hand should a boat tip and any paddlers need assistance.
“We are also going to have first responders there just in case,” Armstrong-Thorstad added.
“We just want to be safe.”
But she also stressed the event is going to be plenty of fun—for both the paddlers and spectators.
Opening ceremonies will take place at 10 a.m., with Dylan Ossachuk singing both national anthems and Linda Hamilton, of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, dotting the dragon’s eye.
Then the races will run from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with the first match-up featuring Fort Frances council against their International Falls counterparts.
“They have a little grudge match going so it should be fun,” Armstrong-Thorstad remarked.
Meanwhile, there will be a festival-like atmosphere throughout the day, with plenty of food and craft vendors slated to be on hand.
Armstrong-Thorstad said there will be everything from Boston Pizza and Ethiopian food to cotton candy, popcorn, and hotdogs.
Local crafters will be selling jewellery, stained glass, native arts, natural bath products, alpaca blankets, and more.
“We really encourage everyone to come on down and check out what’s going on,” Armstrong-Thorstad said.
Then Boston Pizza will host a Dragon Boat After-Party, beginning at 7 p.m., with an open mic night, drink specials, and a special on appetizers.
Two other Canada Day events that had to be postponed also are scheduled to go Saturday.
The bath tub races will take place at 5 p.m. at the Point while a large fireworks display will light up the sky at dusk.
Armstrong-Thorstad said the committee is hoping Mother Nature will co-operate for the event, but they are planning to go ahead rain or shine.
“We purchased a large 20x20 event tent, which we are going to get our logos put on it after,” she explained.
“And we bought two pagoda-type tents . . . as well as seven team tents.”
The committee also is going to borrow a few tents from the local BIA so teams will be protected from the elements.
“The festival is going to be great,” Armstrong-Thorstad predicted.
“It’s going forward now no matter what . . . but we’re hoping the sun will shine.”
For more information, call 274-5773.

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