The seventh annual Montana Dragon Boat Festival is underway this weekend in Bigfork, only about 20 minutes from Kalispell. Apparently dragon boating started in China 2,500 years ago and it has become a popular event on most continents. The dragon boats are 40 feet long and 4 feet wide. Each crew includes 20 paddlers, one steerer and one drummer. Three boats race at a time, with lots of hooting and hollering before they take off. Each race is only a minute or two long, and then paddlers disembark, and the next three teams get ready to go.
The festival often includes as many as 8,000 paddlers, and there are both competitive teams as well as non-profit groups and local businesses who might be doing the sport for the first time. Anyone who is interested in trying their hand(s) at paddling a boat can sign up at the Information booth for a free ride. The free dragon boating trials are expected to happen on Sunday around 11:30.
The festival runs both today (Saturday September 7th) and tomorrow. During the day today, teams will be racing until 4pm, and tomorrow the semi-finals get underway at 9am. In addition to the races, there are children's activities, some food vendors, as well the entire town of Bigfork to explore. Parking is at the Bigfork schools, and you can either walk down to the Marina Cay spectator area, or can take a shuttle to the event.
After personally visiting the Dragon Boat Festival this morning, I can attest that this is a great way to spend some time this weekend! And there are plenty of places to eat or shop in Bigfork, so bring along your walking shoes and wallet.
Yet another fun thing to do in beautiful Northwest Montana!
See montanadragonboat.com for more information.
Originally published at thehousekat.com.