Dragon boating on ice? It’s coming to Central Alberta this February!

An Ice Dragon Boat racing event in Ottawa. Photo submitted

An Ice Dragon Boat racing event in Ottawa. Photo submitted

When you think about dragon boat racing, it will likely include summer days and teams digging deep with their paddles into warm waters.

A new event for Western Canada is turning that whole scenario on its head. Yes, dragon boating is for winter, too!

Ice Dragon Boat Racing is coming Feb. 10 and 11 to Sylvan Lake, in Central Alberta. Held in only three other Canadian communities, this will be the first time the event will be held in western Canada, said Monique Pummings, the town’s director of recreation, culture, tourism and economic development.

The town is working with the Montreal-based Mission Dragon Boat to plan the event.

“We are super excited to be bringing it to Alberta,” Pummings says.

READ MORE: Peggy’s Cove meets Central Alberta: Lighthouse stands tall on the shores of Sylvan Lake

Each team will consist of eight to 10 ‘paddlers’ plus a steer person and a drummer, with racing along a 100-metre track.

On the 10th, teams will have an opportunity to book a practice time, and then the actual races are slated to run Feb. 11.

“Each team will have an opportunity to participate in two races,” she says, adding that there’ll be trophies and medals for the various categories, too.

“This event is really open to anybody who wants to participate – it doesn’t have to be a Dragon Boat team; it can be a business or company that would like to do some team-building activities, or just a bunch of friends who would like to have a good time,” she says.

The event is open to anyone over the age of 13, with parental consent required for those under 18.

READ MORE: ‘Ultimate Alberta Bucket List’ features adventures across the province

“There is truly a place for everybody. There will also be prizes for things like the best-dressed team or best team spirit – those types of things, too, to make it even more fun and engaging,” Pummings says.

“We are working on getting a big tent to put up on the ice, and to just have a really good time with some bands and music – it will be lots of fun and really great for the community.

“Our ice slide should also be completed just a couple of days prior to the event, so that will be set up as well. It’s also happening a week before our Winterfest activities, so February will really be a super-fun month around here,” she says.

The event was originally planned for 2020, but was sidelined by the pandemic.

READ MORE: NatGeo puts Alberta tourist spots in top 25

Pummings had even visited Ottawa to check out their event. “It was absolutely fantastic – they do such a good job. And we thought that we just needed to do this in Sylvan Lake,” she says.

Ice Dragon Boat Races are also a tremendous opportunity to showcase Sylvan Lake in a whole new and unique way, she says.

“Anytime we have a chance to show off Sylvan Lake, we want to take those opportunities. We expect to see a lot of visitors coming into town for the races, and also visiting the restaurants, shops and hotels. That’s something that is really exciting for us, too.”

Organizers are on the lookout for sponsors to help make the event even bigger and better, plus volunteer help as well.

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