Paddler registration deferred to 2018 race.

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September 7, 2017, Kalispell, Mont. – Unhealthy air conditions caused by forest fire smoke have forced the cancellation of this year’s Montana Dragon Boat Festival. The sixth annual festival was to be held September 9 – 10 in the Northwest Montana community of Lakeside on Flathead Lake and attended by teams from across Montana and the western U.S. and Canada.

“We’re extremely disappointed to have to cancel the event,” said Diane Medler, Kalispell Convention & Visitor Bureau director. The CVB organizes the annual Dragon Boat Festival 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.”

At the time the decision was made, air quality was categorized as very unhealthy by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, a standard that calls for rescheduling or relocating sporting events and other outdoor activities. Northwest Montana is not alone in this issue. Two other dragon boat events in western Canada were recently cancelled.

Although the Montana Dragon Boat Festival refund policy states that the window for issuing refunds has passed, 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. Or teams can 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 added. “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.”

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