It’s almost time to awaken the dragon.
The sound of drum beats will be heard at Henderson Lake later this month when the annual ATB Financial Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival returns June 21-23.
This year will mark the 18th annual edition of an event that began on a much smaller scale in 2002 when 17 dragon boat teams took part on a windy weekend in June. Last year’s festival attracted 70 teams, including 43 mixed teams and 25 women’s teams, along with two youth teams.
The event has become a popular team-building exercise for local businesses as well as a much-anticipated event for spectators because of the combination of exciting dragon boat races and plenty of family-friendly entertainment.
This year’s musical entertainment includes Dusty Dee Litchfield, performing at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 21. Following opening ceremonies at 6 p.m., the Chinook High School Rock & Pop Program, led by Scott Davidson, will perform. They will be followed at 7:15 p.m. by popular local rock band The Chevelles.
The Desert Wind Belly Dancers will take to the stage at 8:45 p.m., and then The Chevelles will return for their second set of music at 9:15 p.m.
Entertainment for June 22 and 23 was still to be announced as of press time.
There’s fun for the youngsters, too, at KidZone, where there will be activities and live entertainment for children of all ages. Food and merchandise vendors, along with a beer garden, add to the festival atmosphere.
Of course, the reason for the festival is the dragon boat racing, and for that, the festival regularly attracts teams from throughout Alberta as well as from B.C., Saskatchewan and Montana.
The Lethbridge Dragon Boat Festival is highly regarded on the dragon boat circuit, in large part because Henderson Lake offers an ideal setting in which spectators can watch the races.
Karen Johnson, longtime race chair for the local event, noted last year that Lethbridge’s venue “is probably better than most places I’ve ever been because you can see the races from all around the lake.”
Putting on such a large event requires an army of volunteers and organizers can always use a few more helping hands. If you’d like to help out, check out the “Volunteer” section on the festival website.
You can also check the website, at https://lethbridgedragonfest.ca, for more information and updates.