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Sarah Stoffel tosses a bean bag during some down time between races on Saturday. Stoffel paddled with the Rockin Rowers, sponsored by Knife River Materials. Pioneer Photo/Dayna Landgrebe

Dragon Boat camps: It's a team thing

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Gusty winds and on-and-off sunshine didn't put a damper on team spirit or the villages that were set up in Library Park for the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat races yesterday.

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Grills were smoking with brats and burgers, and pizza boxes were strewn about many of the campsites as rowers and supporters alike took in a little lunch in between races.

Many of the camps were elaborately decorated to complement the team themes, while others went with a tropical Hawaiian theme with tiki lanterns, and grass skirts hanging from the tent.

Bemidji State University's Beaver Brigade, however, went with a more authentic theme for their camp, which was named Best Village. Camouflage, brush, leaves and tree branches served as walls for the tent, and a camouflage truck was parked behind it.

"We were the hidden team, like our motif here and we just snuck up like we did in the last few feet (of the race)," said Patrick Walsh, a graduate student studying counseling and psychology at BSU.

In the team's first heat of the day, the Beaver Brigade pulled ahead from the back during the last section of the race.

Another creative attempt came from the team camp of Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates' Water Soaked Nerds, with their recreated nerdy bedroom, complete with a poster of Albert Einstein, stuffed animals on the bedspread and a photo of Bill Gates on the desk next to the computer.

Although the team came in last place during their first heat, the team's captain, Steve Pemble, phrased it a little differently.

"We came in less than a second beyond the third-place team," Pemble said with a laugh.

A sandbox made up the village for the Pinnacle Paddlers, which was complete with sand toys and scoops, while an oversized lifejacket and minnow bucket sat at Bunyan's Boat House for the team Knot Impaired, sponsored by Bemidji Marine.

The PBS Paddlers of Lakeland Public Television didn't seem to be affected by the windy weather during the event.

"It was pretty cold this morning, but we're like campers, and you just get the blankets out and away we go," said Tom Lembrick, Lakeland engineer manager.

Dozens of other people were bundled up in blankets, only to shed them when the sun came out a few minutes later.

Music pumped throughout the campsites and a steady stream of people mingled in and out. While some teams can certainly be credited with the most original tent sites, Sen Lin Hu of Concordia Language Villages came prepared with the most authentic décor.

A traditional Tibetan tent made of cloth and embellished with bright colors stood tied to wooden stakes. The tent was brought over by some of the Chinese staff at the language villages.

"We've been celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival for more than 20 years. So when Bemidji started this we said we'd like to be a part of it because the dragon boats are a big part of our celebration," said Paul Delmain, a senior staff member for Concordia. Delmain also played a big role in helping to get the tent for Sen Lin Hu.

Team spirit among the paddlers at the villages remained high for the daylong event.

dlandgrebe@bemidjipioneer.com

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