Dragon boat festival set to go

Jamie Mountain

The seventh-annual International Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival is set to hit the water here on Saturday at the Sorting Gap Marina.
Unlike previous years, a new twist will have the boats being launched from both Fort Frances and International Falls.
Each side also will stage their own festival, with the money raised to go to charities in their respective communities.
Dragon boat teams will meet in the middle of the upper Rainy River before racing down the 300-metre course to the finish line.
As of this morning, four teams had signed up to participate.
The festival also will feature vendors and a “Duelling Dragons Tug of War.”
The latter features two teams of eight people who sit on opposite ends of a dragon boat facing inward, with paddles ready.
When the whistle goes, each team paddles as hard as they can to try to push the other team back past a marker set up on a dock.
The festival once again will kick off with the “Awakening of the Dragons” ceremony at 9:30 a.m. before teams of 16-20 paddlers, a steers, and a drummer begin racing along the river.
Teams are encouraged to collect pledges and raise money at their team tents, as all activities held at the venue on the day of the festival will be geared towards raising money for breast cancer research and the Backus Community in the Falls.
Following the qualifying heats of the dragon boat races, the annual “flower ceremony” will be held to honour all cancer survivors, caregivers, and those who have passed away from the disease.
Survivors are welcome to contact the IBWDB Foundation at dragonboatff@gmail.com if they would like to paddle in the boats on the water for the ceremony.
Flowers also will be available for purchase on the day of the festival for all who wish to participate from the shoreline.
All money raised through the “flower ceremony” will be donated to each countries’ respective breast cancer society.
This year’s festival also will feature the return of the international tug-of-war–an event that will see the Backus Community Center string a 1,200-foot rope across the upper river.