KALISPELL - This year’s Montana Dragon Boat Festival in Northwest Montana has been canceled due to very unhealthy air conditions caused by forest fire smoke.
The festival was to be held this weekend in Lakeside on Flathead Lake.
Diane Medler with the Kalispell Convention and Visitor's Bureau says although their disappointed to have to cancel the event, it's in the best interest of the health of the paddlers, race crew, staff, volunteers, vendors and entertainers.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality calls for rescheduling or relocating sporting events and other outdoor activities when the air quality is categorized as very unhealthy. But Medler says they won't be rescheduling.
"Once...we get to the point that we're confident that the air quality will be consistently okay it gets too late in the season and Flathead Lake gets very very cold and the weather gets more unpredictable," Medler said.
She added that planning for the 2018 festival has already begun.
Northwest Montana is not alone - two other dragon boat events in western Canada were recently canceled.