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Dragon Boat Bash will churn Kennedy Lake

They’ll awaken the dragon at Friday night ceremony

August 21, 2011
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

One event won't leave you "dragon" this weekend - the 15th annual Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash.

A dragon boat is a 44-foot long canoe in the shape of a dragon, powered by 20 paddlers working in tandem. It's a part of ancient Chinese culture, celebrating the fifth moon.

"Our event is more about building community, supporting our community," said Barbara Michaels, Rotarian and United States Dragon Boat Federation vice president. "It also teaches a great lesson in teamwork."

Article Photos

-Messenger file photo by Hans Madsen

Brenna Paukert, 15, of Webster City, with the Dragon Slayers dragon boat team, drums out the rowing pace for a group of junior paddlers during action at the 2010 Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash.

So far, 17 teams have signed up for the races, including youth teams and five teams from out of town.

"We've had all kinds of groups - the hospital, school youth groups, there's been all kinds of companies who have brought teams together, as well as families who want to have a team of their own," she said.

Michaels said the great thing about the sport is it's accessible. "We have paddlers as young as 11 and older than 65 who compete in our boats. It's a pretty open sport that can encompass all kinds of things."

Fact Box

If you go:

WHO: Daybreak Rotary.

WHAT: 15th annual Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash.

WHEN: Friday through Aug. 28. Introduction of teams and sponsors at 5:30 p.m. Vinyl and Fishheads bands to play at 6:30 p.m. The Awakening of the Dragon ceremony at 8:45 p.m. GATES open at 7 a.m. Saturday and Aug. 28. Races start at 9 a.m. each day. Pancake breakfast 7 to 10 a.m. each day. No coolers allowed any day.

WHERE: Badger Lake at Kennedy Park, north of Fort Dodge.

TICKETS are $5 for Friday, with free admission Saturday and Aug. 28.

The event is also a boon to the local economy, Michaels said, bringing in teams from out of town who then stay in Fort Dodge motels and eat in restaurants.

The Dragon Boat Bash began 15 years ago as a Daybreak Rotary Club service project.

"Our project really was to draw some attention to the riverfront, to activities that could be held on the river and most importantly to do a cleanup project at a park down by the river," she said.

The river was impacted by the weather, though, and the event was moved to Kennedy Park, where the lake water is more stable.

A feature of the event is its six competing breast cancer survivor teams, she said. "It's an incredible support group for women who have experienced cancer."

With these events, the Rotary Club supports a local cause. Because of their interest in breast cancer survivors, Rotary is raising funds for Trinity Regional Medical Center's new cancer treatment center, Michaels said.

The money raised helps meet the needs of people who don't typically have insurance coverage, Michaels said, providing them wigs, transportation and even treatment.

The funds will be matched from part of an anonymous gift of $1.5 million that Trinity recently received.

"Every dollar that we raise at this year's event will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the anonymous gift, so it makes your gift twice the amount," Michaels said.

At the bash, there will be a silent auction and various activities, such as a concert with bands Vinyl and The Fishheads, and a fireworks show. The event begins, as always, with the Awakening of the Dragon.

Trinity Regional Medical Center will have an educational RV on site to provide skin checks for sun damage.

Michaels, who competes in the races, said the Dragon Boat Bash is always fun.

"Unless you do it, you can't comprehend," she said, "but everyone has a great time who competes."

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or



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