Dragon Boat Festival May Move to Lakeside

Popular event has spent the past three summers in Bigfork

By Beacon staff

An effort to move the popular Montana Dragon Boat Festival from Bigfork to Lakeside is underway with a group on the West Shore of Flathead Lake hoping to attract the event.

For the past three summers, thousands of people have gathered on the shores of the Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork for the festival. Dozens of teams from around the region and Canada have taken to the water to race the massive boats, while onlookers and merchants enjoy the races from dry land.

It’s been a big undertaking for the Kalispell Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organizes and puts on the event. Diane Medler, director at the KCVB, said having the event at the Bigfork venue has been great, but the event needs to be able to break even if it has a chance of continuing in the long term.

David Fetveit, a real estate broker in Lakeside, is part of the group pitching Lakeside to the KCVB, and he said the West Shore Visitor’s Bureau wanted a large event that would make use of the shoreline, restaurants, bars, and other amenities in the community.

“What really opened the door was the creation of Volunteer Park, that that land was developed and donated to the county,” Fetveit said. “That really gave us the anchor point of the venue.”

The group did its due diligence and presented the proposal to the KCVB, Fetveit said, and pending approval of an administrative conditional use permit with the county, he expects the event to end up on the West Shore.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said.

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