Canoe Parade Invades Red River

The first annual floating canoe parade showcased the connection between the Red River, the people who live around it and how it shapes the community. Nine canoes showed up for the event, each bringing their own group of followers to spectate. The parade had floats decorated in many different fashions. Everything from a loon to a Viking ship was represented.

“We don’t use the river enough,” Folkways event organizer and founder Simone Wai said. “The river is the central part of our community, so I thought, what better way to draw people there than decorated canoes. We wanted to create positive memories on the river, and I think we did just that.”

“People are already planning their floats for next year,” co-organizer Joe Burgum said. “We had a lot of people that were interested that weren’t able to participate this year. We really hope to do something with fire next year. Some sort of dragon barge would be fun.”

Burgum stated that the community has great performing arts, visual arts and music, but stressed that the hope is to create a community ritual involving spectacle art. The purpose behind this spectacle art is to create joy, make people smile and think to themselves how crazy, weird and fun art can be.

At the end of the parade, an award called the Golden Paddle was given to the winning team. This year’s recipients were Vijay and Anu Gaba. The Gaba’s, immigrants from India, entered the parade with their float “World Peace,” a canoe decorated in various types of artificial flowers topped with a banner on either side of the vessel reading “Peace.”

“Being outsiders, you see so much conflict, and we wanted to spread some love and peace in the Fargo area,” Anu Gaba said.

The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 24 but was postponed because of the rain. The parade took place Oct. 15.

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