The beautiful Lake Bemidji waterfront is host to our 400 meter dragon boat race course on Saturday and bonus 200 meter race held on Friday evening. With ample opportunity for spectators to take in all the action, everyone enjoys their time at the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival!

Parade of Teams and Opening Ceremony

Join us at the waterfront where each team participates in our fun and festive opening ceremonies. Dragon boat races are rich in Chinese heritage. Concordia Language Villages will be helping us keep those traditions alive in Bemidji. We will start with an opening parade of teams led by the staff and students of Concordia’s Sen Lin Hu Chinese language village and their wonderful dragon and drum crew. The parade will start in the Team Village (Library Park). It is a walking parade, many teams dress up in their team apparel, chant and hand out candy or other goodies from their sponsoring business. After the parade of teams, the Opening Ceremony begins with a few short welcome speeches and the WAKING OF THE DRAGON.


Friday Night Sprint Cup

After the opening ceremonies, we host the Friday Night Sprint Cup races. It’s a warm-up to the main race day and an additional opportunity to take home some hardware. It’s a 200 meter course (approx. 1/2 length of regular race) and each team gets two races. The team with the fastest overall race time takes home the Dondelinger GM Sprint Cup as well as individual medals! The first 16 teams to register and pay the $50 entry fee will battle for the Cup! Enjoy a live band in the Dragon’s Den immediately following the races.

Sprint Cup

Main Race Day Saturday

Whether you have a group representing a business or organization, a bunch of family members or friends, your team will have a great time! Teams include 16-20 paddlers plus a drummer. The minimum age is 13. Teams are co-ed but must include at least eight female paddlers. No experience or equipment is necessary! We provide everything you’ll need, and will provide practices for your team. All you need is to be ready to have lots of fun! Races run all day.

Early Bird Team Registration by May 1st: $700 (averages $35/pp)
Team Registration after May 1st: $800 (averages $40/pp)

Saturday Races

Challenge Cups

In addition to several awards that are given for top finishers, traveling “challenge” cups will be awarded to teams competing head-to-head and first round race times will determine the winner of each of these special traveling trophies!

Challenge cups are available to those teams fitting into these categories:

  • Bankers Cup
  • Battle of the Badges Cup
  • Casino Cup
  • Civic Cup
  • Contractor’s Cup
  • Education Cup
  • Family Cup
  • Health Cup
  • Manufacturer’s Cup
  • Media Cup
  • Realtors Cup
  • Sprint Cup

Cancer Survivor/Supporter Race

The Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival is once again partnering with the American Cancer Society Beltrami County Relay for Life to invite Cancer Survivor/Supporter teams to participate in this year’s festival.

Survivor/Supporter teams send out an inspirational message encouraging all cancer survivors to live life to the fullest after a cancer diagnosis. They paddle together for life-affirming exercise and camaraderie.

There will be a Cancer Survivor/Supporter heat at the end of the morning session of races, followed by a rose ceremony honoring those we’ve lost to cancer and our local cancer survivors as they fight the toughest battle imaginable.

Cancer Survivors Roses Race

Race Winners and Closing Ceremony

At the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival, each team has at least two races. Each team’s cumulative time is computed and the teams are placed in order according to their combined time. The field of teams is then separated into three divisions, the Gold Division, representing the top third, the Silver Division representing the middle third, and the Bronze Division representing the lower third of the field of teams. The four teams with the fastest combined times in each division will race one more time in the division finals to determine the winners of a coveted paddle and of course bragging rights. Paddles are awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place Gold Division finishers and the 1st place winners in the Silver and Bronze Divisions.

High Five - Paddlers

Team Village

Each team participating in the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival can have a designated area in the Team Village to use as their team’s home base during the festival. The sites are on a first come first served availability and will be approximately 14 feet by 14 feet and will be conveniently located in the shady, grassy area of Library Park overlooking beautiful Lake Bemidji and the dragon boat races.

Although no overnight camping is allowed, teams are encouraged to set up tents, tables, chairs, and whatever else they want in their area to make it their team’s headquarters as early as sunrise on Friday… and show off your team spirit! Have fun with this! There will be an award for the Best Team Village.

All spectators are welcome to walk around see the creativity… some teams even provide games for guests.


Team Village

Other Team Awards

A big part of the dragon boat fun is being creative with your team’s look, name, space in the Team Village, etc. Each team is expected to participate in the parade and opening ceremonies on Friday evening. There will be an award for the Best Team Appearance so you’ll want to make sure your team is lookin’ good! Team shirts, banners, flags, and any other creative ideas you may have to set your team apart are encouraged! Judging for this award takes place during the parade. Think about a fun and entertaining name for your team too, as the Best Team Name award will be given to the team with the most creative name and Best Team T-Shirt for their team logo and t-shirt design. These awards along with Best Team Village will be announced during the 2nd heat on Saturday. Good Luck & Have Fun!

Hydra Heads Champion



Festival Founders

Title Sponsor

Paul Bunyan Communications Logo