Until recently I didn’t realize it had been three years since we last attended the Dragon Boat Festival in Superior, Wisconsin (2011), so we made plans to catch at least part of the 2014 event. Unlike 2011, the Sun stayed hidden most of race day, as cool, overcast weather greeted the beginning of the 2014 Lake Superior Dragonboat Races held on August 22-23rd. Good for the racers . . . but not as good for taking pictures.
Some scenes from the 2014 Race & Festival (88 teams competed this year)
Friday night opening ceremonies began with a parade across the bridge and an introduction of all the teams as they march to the band shell park. I like this part of the festival because of the colorful and sometimes humorous costumes some teams display and also it gives me a chance to get a look at the teams, learn where they are from, etc. so you I can pick which teams I am going to root for on Saturday race day. After the opening ceremonies there was entertainment on the main stage at the park, followed by fireworks, and then followed by the closing act which lasted until 11 pm. This year’s groups were Mynx and Crescent Moon.
Saturday morning the races started at 8:00 am. The first qualifying heat ended around noontime; after a break the second heat was run; followed by the championship races ending around dinner time. Awards and closing ceremony was held at the Band Shell and that evening a party was held at Barkers Island Inn with music by the Circuit Breakers.
One of our favorite race teams from previous year’s, Wiki Wiki Wahine, an all women’s team from Duluth sponsored a Co-ed boat this year: Wiki and Da Boyz. The usual rule for dragonboat races is that of the 20 paddlers, there must be at least 8 women. Wiki turned this formula upside down with 12 women and 8 men paddlers. They turned in some great times coming in second during the first qualifying heat and first in the second preliminary race. But unfortunately they were bested in the championship race by the Windy City Dragons (from Chicago) making their first appearance at the Lake Superior race.
Another favorite team of ours is Smoke on the Water, a team from Thunder Bay, Ontario. A fun-loving group that is always accompanied by one of their members, Mike Johnson, playing the Bagpipe. Dean Koski, the capped crusader was the drummer for this team. In some years “Smoke” has turned in some strong results for their class category but this year they were in the middle of the pack in the 2014 race.
See some race videos and pictures from prior year’s festivals