Thousands Pack Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival

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Nearly 7,000 people gathered in Barker’s Island for an ancient tradition that’s not only fun but raises money for local causes.

“This year we kind of have a purpose,” said Joy Wooley with Women of the Woods. “We’re racing in honor of our team captain’s sister Eileen. She died this previous year.”

The Women of the Woods is one of nearly 100 teams paddling 375 meters on a stretch of Lake Superior in the 14th annual Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival.

The event combined food, family and lots of fun as spectators watched more than 1,800 paddlers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada take on the roughly two minute challenge.

“Our technique is to keep our eyes in the boat,” said Wooley. “To keep our concentration on task and to row and paddle all in sync.”

Superior’s biggest event is more than just entertainment and adrenaline.

Charity is its core purpose.

Proceeds from the dragon boat festival will go to local causes like the Essentia Health Foundation.

They will take home about $60,000 dollars to help fund cancer research and survivors.

“It speaks well to our community that we have so many people that are willing to volunteer their time for good charitable causes,” Dragon Boat Festival co-chair Mitchell Diers said. “Like I said 100% of the money all turns around and goes back out to charity. The local rotaries do not collect a dime for it.”

Since it started the Dragon Boat festival has raised about $2 million dollars.

It’s the biggest boat festival in the Midwest.

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