Tall corn and dragon boats may seem like an odd combination, but here in Webster County they both have emerged as symbolic of summer.
The 16th annual Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash gets under way at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park with assorted festivities and entertainment this evening. Racing will take place Saturday. It's expected that about 400 devotees of this ancient sport will participate in the competition.
While good fun is a major focus of this event, there is a serious side. Teams and those who attend will engage in an array of fundraising projects to help pay for cancer treatment at Trinity Regional Medical Center. That noble endeavor is an important added dimension of a fun-filled two days that deserves praise and support. There will be a breast cancer survivor ceremony Saturday at 2 p.m.
Musical entertainment has long been part of Dragon Boat events locally, and that tradition continues this year. There will be performances this evening by local band Wheelhouse starting at 6:30 p.m. with The Fishheads taking the stage later on. The traditional Awakening of the Dragon ceremony will be a highlight of this evening for longtime fans and newcomers alike and shouldn't be missed.
Saturday morning and early afternoon will be devoted primarily to the races, but there will be entertainment and ample refreshments as well.
While dragon boat racing is a relatively new tradition in Webster County, its origins in China date back two millennia.
The story goes that the competition emerged as a way to commemorate the death of Chu Yuan, a poet and statesman who fell out of favor with the emperor and threw himself into the Mi Lo River in China to protest alleged government corruption. Supporters of Chu supposedly rushed in boats to the place of his drowning. Thereupon, the tradition of dragon boat racing was born.
Those events so long ago in China have little to do with why the sport finds favor today, but Chu's belief in honest government certainly is as relevant now as it was in his time. His message deserves more than passing notice.
Fort Dodgers Linda Donner and Barbara Michaels co-chair the event, which is organized by the Badger Lake Dragon Boat Association.
The Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash has become a site for major competitions. Dragon boat racing enhances our community's reputation as an excellent recreation destination. This annual event helps make Fort Dodge a fun place to live while also benefiting the local economy and contributing grandly to an important charitable cause.
If you haven't already made plans to join in the fun, do so. You'll be glad you did.