Dragon boat history
Though the first Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival was celebrated in 2002, the history of dragon boat racing itself can be traced to legends that date back more than 2,000 years.
One such legend is based on ancient Chinese mythology, which identifies the dragon as the symbol for water. Believed to reign the rivers and seas and dictate the clouds and rains, the dragon and its clout incited superstitious Chinese villagers to conduct races in boats shaped like the formidable serpent. Conducted each year on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, these boat races were believed to not only assuage the rain gods, but also to forestall misfortune and encourage the rains needed for prosperity.
Another dragon boat racing legend begins with Qu Yuan, a trusted advisor in the Chinese state of Chu, who the king banished to a remote area in Southern China. Qu Yuan spent the remainder of his life in a state of depression, wandering aimlessly about the countryside while writing poetry in profession of his love for his country and its people. Upon learning of his kingdom’s defeat, Qu Yuan gripped a large rock and threw himself into the torrents of the Miluo River. News of Qu Yuan’s suicide spread quickly, and hundreds of local fishermen and villagers raced out in their boats in an attempt to save him, beating on drums and splashing their oars in the water in an effort to prevent the water dragons from eating his body.
These ancient legends have formed the modern sport of dragon boat racing, commemorating the tragic death and sacrifice of Chinese patriot and poet Qu Yuan, as well as paying tribute to the Chinese water dragon deity. Moreover, it has developed into a worldwide, fun-filled, family-focused team building activity. Since the first dragon boat festival in Hong Kong in 1976, the sport has grown into an event that now draws participants in over 60 countries, including more than 90,000 people in the United States and Canada.
The Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival is proud to be part of this ancient tradition and bring the custom to the fresh waters of Lake Superior!
It’s all goin’ down at Barker’s Island!
The Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival takes place at Barker’s Island, located in the historic port town of Superior, Wisconsin, just across the bridge from Duluth, Minnesota. The island provides access to the Superior Bay race course and serves as a majestic venue for both paddlers and spectators alike.
Barker’s Island 300 Marina Drive Superior, WI 54880 Map It!
Free Parking is available on the large grassy area across from Barker’s Island. We offer a hay wagon ride and handicapped accessible shuttles for those who would like a ride over the bridge to the festival grounds.
Shuttle Bus Information & Schedule – Shuttle vans will be departing from the Mariner Mall at 69 North 28th St., Superior WI., and arriving at the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival at Barkers Island.
The vans will be departing Barkers Island and returning to the Mariner Mall on a regular basis thru out the day as well.
The hours of operation are: Friday 8/23- 4PM – 11:59 PM Saturday 8/24 – 7AM – 7PM The buses depart approximately every 7 – 10 minutes
Fireworks take place on a barge at anchor in the bay in view of Barker’s Island Festival Park at approximately 9:00 p.m. This is a free display provided by the City of Superior.
Yes definitely! Kids are more than welcome and we believe you will find our crowd to be very inviting. The Kiwanis Club offers a Kid Activity Tent, and young people 14 and older can even sign-up to paddle on a Dragon Boat!