The upcoming Montana Dragon Boat Festival has been canceled due to hazardous smoke conditions smothering the region.
Organizers announced the cancelation Sept. 6 and said additional information would be released Sept. 7. The sixth annual event was slated to hit Flathead Lake and Lakeside Sept. 9-10. Previous events have attracted more than 7,000 paddlers.
“We’re extremely disappointed to have to cancel the event,” said Diane Medler, director of the Kalispell Convention & Visitor Bureau, which organizes the annual event with Elemental Dragon Boat, Ltd. “Unfortunately, we have fallen victim to the ravages of Mother Nature, and the air quality in the area has become too compromised to hold the event.”
The smoke conditions blanketing the Flathead Valley were listed as “very unhealthy” when the cancelation was announced Wednesday. When air quality is considered “very unhealthy,” health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid any outdoor activity. Everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.
Two other dragon boat events in western Canada were recently cancelled.
The Montana Dragon Boat Festival refund policy states that the window for issuing refunds has passed but the Kalispell CVB has offered to defer 100 percent of the registration fee and hold all of the teams’ spots for the 2018 Montana Dragon Boat Festival. Teams can also choose to receive a 50 percent refund of this year’s registration fee.
“Our entire community is incredibly disappointed we cannot host the boat teams this year. It is our favorite event of the season,” Medler said. “We’ll begin planning right away for the 2018 event that will hopefully provide Flathead Valley’s usual clear skies and beautiful mountain scenery for our paddlers.”
With the dry conditions and hot temperatures, fires are expected to continue to grow with smoke remaining fairly localized in valley floors for several days. The National Weather Service said Wednesday there does not to be any precipitation in the forecast for at least another week.