July 24, 2013 - By Katelyn Winkler
Review Staff Writer
Dragons are going to dominate Lake Orion the weekend of August 23 to 25 with the Fifth Annual Dragon on The Lake festival that will be a little different and more exciting than those in the past.
On Monday night, the Lake Orion Village Council approved some of the new upgrades to the festival and everything is now in place to make the weekend one to remember in Lake Orion
"Dragon on the Lake is a celebration of art, music and the Lake Orion's century old legend of the dragon," said Lauren Dinneweth, director of the Orion Art Center, the organization that puts on the festival. "It started out as a 30th anniversary celebration of the Orion Art Center. Just a small celebration with a few craft tables, inflatables and a chalk art competition. Now, it has grown into a full-fledged community festival. We have dozens of community groups that are involved and thousands and thousands of people that attend."
The festivities will begin on Friday with the new events: a charity casino, evening 5k run and the downtown "Lakeside Living Art Fair."
The Charity Casino will be held in the festival's Dragon Pub on Anderson Street, hosted in partnership with the Lake Orion Knights of Columbus. The evening will include games like Black Jack, Roulette, and Texas Hold 'em.
"Something also new is a 5k run, which is being sponsored by Crittenton hospital and in partnership with the Lake Orion United Methodist Church. It's a unique evening run on Friday through the streets of Lake Orion. The run will benefit Help Kids Succeed, which provides clothing, supplies and other essentials to children in need.
Another addition, which we're really excited about, is the 'Lakeside Living's Art fair.' There will be over 50 artists, national and local, that will be selling and showcasing their work. We created it wanting a relaxed lake living, vacation feel. So it's a fine art of casual living style of art fair. There will be stages set up with artists demonstrating."
During the day on Saturday, all boats and paddlers competing in the dragon boat races will have the chance to practice before the big races on Sunday.
In the evening on Saturday, in downtown there will be an 80's retro-fest block party that will feature theme-fitting bands.
But, many of those who flock to Lake Orion will come to see the exciting dragon boat races.
"We are almost sold out of dragon boats, with 30 boats racing on the water. We will be starting a waiting list. The spots aren't official until it's paid. We have more people interested than we had spots available, which is a wonderful place to be," Dinneweth said. "There will be over 600 paddlers participating in the Dragon boat races.
"We have the Island Bombers, which are the winning team from last year that will be back and we have a whole mix of teams from church groups to organizations to businesses and it's really exciting to bring all of these people together to race against each other."
Dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Twenty people join together in a 40-foot boat, all paddling together, while a drummer keeps the pace.
The festival includes three stages of entertainment too, providing something for everyone. There is a stage in the Dragon Pub, the Art Stage, and a stage in the Kidz Zone, which has moved to the area surrounding the Art Center this year.
On Saturday night, the main stage will feature an 80's block party with the Detroit based Square Pegz. Artists can also compete in the Chalk Art Challenge in the streets of downtown. The contest offers $500 in prizes.
The OAC is looking for volunteers to help run the event. Teens and adults are welcome to apply. It's a great opportunity for high school students working to fulfill their community service commitment. Please visit www.DragonOnTheLake.com or call the Orion Art Center at (248) 693-4986 for details.