Dragon boats — the bash is back

-Submitted photo
Paddlers prepare to take to the water during a previous Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash.

The annual Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash will return to Fort Dodge for its 22nd year Friday and Saturday at Badger Lake in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

The fun begins when the gates open at 5:30 p.m. Friday. From there, there will be a team dinner, a silent auction and children’s games until 6:45 p.m. Then, the presentation of colors begins and followed by the introduction of teams and the Awakening of the Dragon ceremony.

The first night of the Dragon Boat Bash will end with a bang with the band Pop Rocks taking the stage beginning at 8 p.m. This will be Pop Rock’s second year headlining the Dragon Boat bash.

“We are bringing Pop Rocks back by popular demand,” Linda Donner, co-chair of the Dragon Boat Bash, said. “They’ve developed quite a following here in Fort Dodge so we expect a great turnout this year.”

The next morning, on Saturday, there will be a pancake breakfast put on by Noon Lions Club before the races begin at 8:30 a.m.

-Submitted photo
Pop Rocks will return to the stage Friday night to kick off the bash.

The teams that come to participate in the Dragon Boat Bash include local corporate teams such as Cargill, CJ Bio America, Hy-Vee, NEW Co-op, UnityPoint Health , Humboldt County Memorial Hospital and Interstate Construction.

“Teams also include groups from around the area like Wightman Waterworks, which is a group of friends from Lake City-Lohrville area, a group friends from Ames that work together at ISU, the 133rd participates,” Donner said.

“Finally, we have organized paddling clubs from the Midwest that have come to participate, including breast cancer survivor teams. We have had teams from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego and even as far as away as Great Britain.”

The Breast Cancer Survivor Ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday with racing awards following.

The tradition of dragon boating dates back 2000 years, according to Donner. It began when Chu Yuan, a poet, warrior and loyal aide to the emperor found himself out of a favor at court. After the emperor died, Chu Yuan was banished. Chu Yuan then went to the countryside where he decided to write poems he hoped would be heard by the new emperor. His desolation grew until one day he threw himself into the Mi Lo River. After hearing of his death, his loyal followers rushed to find his body, fearing it would be devoured by the fish. They banged drums and gongs and beat their paddles to scare the fish.

Athletes worldwide now come together to honor the sacrifice made by Chu Yuan through dragon boat racing.

Fort Dodge is now home to the second oldest event in the Midwest. Most festivals through the years have gone away due to a lack of community support and sponsorship.

“We are grateful the Fort Dodge Community has supported us,” Donner said.

One thing that organizers of the event are asking for this year is volunteers. According to Donner, this year there just hasn’t been many people to volunteer. So, organizers are asking for people to volunteer on both days to help with things like concessions and kids events.

The only cost for the event is Friday night’s concert which is $10, with children 12 and under getting in free if they are accompanied by an adult. There is no charge for Saturday’s races.

Schedule of events


Cost: $10, children 12 and under get in free

5:30 p.m. — Gates open

Team dinner begins

6 p.m. — Children’s games

6:45 p.m. — Presentation of colors

6:50 p.m. — Introduction of teams and awakening of the dragon ceremony

Followed by Shimkat Sprint Cup

8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. — Pop Rocks takes the stage


Cost: Free

7 to 10 a.m. — Noon Lions pancake breakfast

8 a.m. — Captain’s meeting

8:30 a.m. — Racing begins

2 .m. — Breast cancer survivor ceremony

Awards ceremony to follow racing.