Dragon Boats Prepare to Take Flathead Lake by Storm - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Dragon Boats Prepare to Take Flathead Lake by Storm

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BIGFORK -

The ancient sport that traces its roots back to China is happening here, in the Treasure State.

This weekend, the Montana Dragon Boat Festival will drum up excitement for the second year in a row, drawing in 4,000 spectators.

Ninety-five teams registered to compete in this year's event, including out-of-state and out-of-country teams.

Each team is made up of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersman. In unison, they will race along the northeast shore of Flathead Lake in colorful, 46-foot long dragon boats.

Dragon boat racing has a unique following among breast cancer survivors, who use the activity for strength and support in their recovery.

"Dr. Don McKenzie from the University of British Columbia did a study back in the 1990's, where he worked with a group of breast cancer survivors and utilized dragon boat paddling to help them in their recovery," Diane Medler, who is the Director of the Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau, said. "He really saw significant improvement in his patients."

Last year, a total of $75,000 was raised for "Save a Sister," a local breast cancer awareness organization.

The races take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a Dragon Bash at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell, where there will be dinner and live music.

Sunday, the qualifying rounds of races start at 9 a.m. with the championships at 1:30 p.m.

For a full list of events, click here.

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