Dragons in the water

Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash set for Aug. 12-13

-Messenger file photo Paddlers battle on the water during the 2017 Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

When the long, slender dragon boats slip into the water of Badger Lake on Aug. 13, they will be marking a special anniversary.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash.

It will be a two-day event featuring a concert, fireworks and lots of racing action, as the dragon boats knife through the water propelled by teams of 20 paddlers.

“We’re very excited that we made it to our 25th anniversary,” said Linda Donner, a lead organizer of the event.

She said the Dragon Boat Bash is one of two dragon boat races in Iowa, The other is in Dubuque. She added that nationwide, many dragon boat festivals did not resume after the COVID pandemic.

“It’s a fun sport,” Donner said.

She added that Badger Lake is a great place to watch the sport because it is essentially in a natural ampitheater.

People can do more that watch the races. Volunteers to help run the event are still being sought. To volunteer, visit www.bldba.com.

And it is also possible that area residents could get into a dragon boat as part of a racing team. Donner said teams have been known to show up short-handed on race day. She said there is information on the web site about potentially joining a team.

She said 15 to 20 teams are expected. That includes 12 regular local teams, plus ones from Chicago, Kansas City and Wisconsin.

There will be several prize drawings and giveaways during the races.

A silent auction to benefit the Cancer Center at UnityPoint Health- Trinity Regional Medical Center will begin on Aug. 12 and conclude Aug. 13.

Band K, from Leavenworth, Kansas, will perform Aug. 12. Band K performs classic rock and country music.

2022 Schedule of Events

Badger Lake Kennedy Park, Fort Dodge, IA


Aug. 12, 2022

5:30 p.m. Gates open

6 p.m. Childrens games

6:45 p.m. Presentation of colors

6:50 p.m. Introduction of team

7 to 8:30 p.m. Concert by Band K

(Tickets at $5, available at Hy-Vee)

8:30 p.m. Awakening the Dragon ceremony

9 to 10:30 p.m. Concert by Band K’

(Tickets are $5, available at Hy-Vee)

Fireworks to conclude the evening’s events


Aug. 13, 2022

7:00 – 10:00 a.m. Noon Lions Club Pancake Breakfast

8:00 Captain’s Meeting

8:30 Racing All Day

10:30 Cub Scout Rain Gutter Regatta

Breast Cancer Survivor Ceremony

Awards Following Racing

About the boats

The vessels to be used in the races are Hong Kong style dragon boats. Linda Donner, an organizer of the event, described them as racing shells that weight 750 pounds when empty.

During a race, each boat will have 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a person in the rear who steers the vessel.

Donner said the two lead paddlers in the front of the boat set the pace, and the drummer beats the drum to match their pace. By doing that the drummer sets the pace for the rest of the paddlers.

About the races

About 15 to 20 teams are expected.

There are several competition levels: Elite, Community, Breast Cancer Survivors and High School and Youth.

The Community competition level is further divided into gold, silver and bronze categories.


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