BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – More and more details are being released about this year’s third year in the reboot of what is and was RiverFest in Fort Madison,.
Nick Bauswell, the committee chair for the inaugural dragon boat competition which has been added to the lineup of festivities for the 2018 edition, said dragonboat racing is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing sports in America.
He said the American Dragon Boat Association was originally founded in Burlington, Iowa and now holds events throughout the country from Minnesota to Texas and Colorado to Indiana.
Bauswell has been racing dragon boats for 10 years and says it’s a great outing for any group, Groups of 20 boaters, including 18 paddlers, a drummer and a flag catcher. The back steering person or sternsman, is provided by the ADA.
“I’ve been paddling for 10 years and sterning for years. This is just about the hardest 90 seconds of your life, but it’s a lot of fun,” Bauswell said.
Depending on the level of interest and number of teams for this year’s event, Bauswell said the committee will bring either two or four boats to Riverfest and each race will be a dual-heat race.
Bauswell said it’s great team building event and all groups are welcome to come join the fun.
“Whether you are a church or a bar, everybody is welcome to sign up and come experience the excitement of this racing,” he said. “Throughout the country we see teams from all walks of life – families, breast cancer survivor groups, churches, clubs, high schools, and others.”
If enough teams sign up the committee will bring four boats to the Mississippi River for the tournament. Each team will load up and paddle to a starting dock and then race 300 meters to a flag buoy where a catcher will reach out and pull the flag ending that team’s time. Each person will be required to wear appropriate personal flotation devices during the race.
After each race, the teams will paddle back up to the starting dock where they will race a second time.
“If we have four boats then another race will take place while the first race participants paddle back up for their second run.
The event will be bracketed to determine a champion. Bauswell said plans right now are for 50% of the profits to go to charity and 50% to go back into the event to help fund the next year’s race.
Entry fees are $500 per team before May 1 and $600 per team after May 1st.
“You divide that by 20 people and that’s $25 per person for an event you’ll never forget,” Bauswell said.
Racing will take place rain or shine but Bauswell said racing couldn’t take place with lightning in the area and heavy winds could also delay racing.
The event is set for Saturday, Aug. 4, 2017 and anyone interested in forming a team should email Bauswell at email@example.com. More information on dragon boat racing can be found at americandragonboat.org.
The RiverFest committee also released the names of this year’s Beer Tent bands. They include Jive Radio who takes on 70s music on Thursday evening. Friday will feature 80s and 90s best rock with Decade of Decadence to be followed up with the first-ever southeast Iowa appearance of eastern Illinois rockers X-Krush.
Event co-organizer Charles Craft said the main stage lineup will be released at an announcement party March 10 at Kinnick South. He said a list of national bands is sure to excite music lovers in the area.
“RiverFest used to be known as the Hottest Days of Summer and when you hear who we’re bringing in, you’ll know that the Hottest Days of Summer are back,” Craft said.