Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival
10th Annual Lake Superior Dragonboat Race & Festival - Superior, Wisconsin
Dragonboat Festival, Superior, Wisconsin
Fantastic weather on August 26th and 27th for the annual Superior-Duluth Dragon Boat Fest. Sunny to partly sunny skis and low wind greated 92 race teams and thousands of spectators and festival goers. Friday evening started off with the annual team parade, followed by the "Waking of the Dragon" celebration. The food vendors, beer tent, and the entertainment stage were open as competitors and spectators enjoyed the pre-race ambiance. In the Food Court I sampled Rampaign's Cajuns Crawfish Etouffee and found it very good, spicy but not too overly so. Later I topped it off with a fresh corn-on-the-cob from another vendor.
We were told by race publicist Jim Keough that the Lake Superior Dragonboat Race is one of the largest in the United States. We've attended a few other races and can confirm that if not one of the largest races of its kind, it is certainly large!! And lots of fun. The main festival grounds are on Barker's Island. The race itself is held in a well-protected bay between the island and the mainland. There is a goodly amount of parking near the festival area but due to the popularity of the race & festival the city arranges satellite parking at the nearby Mariners Mall shopping center with a free shuttle bus between the mall and the festival grounds. Being the largest city of Superior event of the year, the city and the Douglas County Visitors Bureau go all out to make sure people are safe and have a good time. There are also numerous corporate and civic groups co-sponsoring the event with money and volunteer time.
There are two basic kinds of teams that compete in the race. The normal compliment is a drummer who sits in the bow and acts as a pace-setter and cheerleader. Then there are 10 pairs of paddlers (of which a minimum of 8 paddlers must be women) followed by a steer person in the stern of the mammoth canoe. The second type of team is an all-female team of paddlers and drummer. Many of the teams are sponsored by business organizations or civic, community service organizations. Teams also raise money for health/medical facilities and various other kinds of charitable organizations.