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Registration opens for Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival

There might be a foot of snow outside, but for some people it's time to start thinking about the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival.

The third annual festival, which features dragon boat races on Lake Bemidji near the waterfront, is scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 2.

Early registration for this year's festival runs through March 1. Team registration normally costs $750, but early entrants save $100. Registration can be done online at, by fax, mail or phone.

Gary Johnson, festival co-chair, said he has seen a number of registrations come in, but hasn't counted them yet.

One was from a new team from the Grand Forks area, he said.

The first festival featured 36 teams and last year 60 competed.

"Certainly we can accommodate more than that, Johnson said, explaining that there are no plans to cap the number of participating teams.

Last year, there were six dragon boats available during the competition, of which two were used for practice and four raced at a time.

If more teams continue to register for the event, Johnson said more boats could be utilized.

"We can always get more boats," he said. "We'd be happy to grow a little more - but we'd also be happy if we have 60 teams again."

The Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival is coordinated by the Bemidji Rotary Club and Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce. Johnson, from the Rotary, is a festival co-chair along with Shelly Geerdes from the Chamber.

Registration details

Teams, which have between 17 and 21 people, must contain a minimum of eight females. Participants must be 14 years old or older as of race day, Aug. 2, 2008.

No previous experience is required, and each team is assigned an experienced steersperson, who controls the direction of the boats.

Registration does not require a full team roster, but one will have to be provided by July 1.

Early registration closes March 1, and the deadline for all registrations is July 1.

For more information, visit