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Dragon boat festival ready to hit water

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The Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Club is gearing up for its fourth-annual festival here on Saturday, June 27.

Club president Jennifer Greenhalgh said the turnout of paddlers has picked up since the first practice, but she still is hoping for more entries.

“We’ve been practising since the second week of May,” she noted.

“We started slowly,” Greenhalgh added. “There’s a few ‘die-hards’ out there but the teams are really getting into it this year.”

The festival currently has a total of 10 teams that will be competing—five from Canada and five from the U.S.

Greenhalgh said she has a few predictions for this year’s event.

“We have this beautiful trophy and the MNR team won it last year, so I think they’re really going out this time to hang onto it for another year,” she remarked.

“But the [Fort Frances] Dental Centre won it the year before so I think they may want to reclaim it,” she added.

“It gets pretty competitive out there.”

Greenhalgh stressed paddlers of all experience levels are welcome to join.

She encourages people to come out to the community paddle each Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. at the Sorting Gap Marina, where the equipment is supplied.

“Even if you don’t have a team, there’s always a place for single paddlers,” Greenhalgh said.

“You can just pop them in a boat and make them a part of a team.”

Meanwhile, Greenhalgh is predicting this year’s Dragon Boat Festival will be a great success.

Representatives from “22 Dragons,” the Montreal-based dragon boat organization, will be making an appearance to support the local event.

“They lay the course for us and take videos on the actual race day, and they will be available the week of the race to coach people,” Greenhalgh noted.

The festival, slated to run from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., will kick off with the ceremonial “dotting [of] the eye of the dragon,” which is said to bring good luck to the community.

There also will be various food vendors and artisans on hand, as well as activities for all ages to enjoy.

“Our 40-foot dragon will be dancing with the whole group—young people, old people,” said Greenhalgh.

“It’s going to be great fun and I think it will be a good day,” she enthused.

“If we want to have a tourist destination here, then something like the Dragon Boat Festival will be powerful,” Greenhalgh stressed.

“I hope we can create something bigger from this event and hopefully build [it] into something where we can have an impact on the community,” she remarked.

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