OGDEN -- Drawn by 30 restaurant booths and 240 international performers, 350 athletes and thousands of spectators crowded onto Historic 25th Street Tuesday evening for a bash of intercontinental proportions.
"Worldwide on 25" helped officially kick off the third stage of the 2011 Archery World Cup and offered free admission to an event that allowed participants to sample offerings from area restaurants, watch musicians and dancers from across the globe, and mingle with archery's elite athletes, many of whom likely will be shooting arrows in London next summer.
"These are the same people you're going to see in the Olympics next year," Volunteer and Sponsor Director Tina Blake said pointing to athlete's mingling with guests around an autograph table. "Last year, the emphasis of course was putting on a quality event for the international federation as well as the athletes. Granted, this year we're still focused on putting on a world-class event and making the athletes happy, but it's also about getting the city of Ogden excited about hosting this event."
Blake explained a benefit of having the event in Ogden is its active volunteer pool, over 125 of whom will donate their time and effort through the duration of the event.
Performances during the celebration included dancing, music, and demonstrations by groups from seven different countries that raised funds on their own to make the trip to Ogden.
Native folk artists from Indonesia, Israel, Armenia, Australia, Italy, Bulgaria, and France's Basque region paraded from the amphitheater down 25th Street before rotating between the north and east stages for more shows.
Irene Galis of Transylvania, Romania, says it was well worth the fundraising effort and 38-hour plane ride her group endured to be able to perform in Ogden.
"We love doing this whenever," she said. "It's a great pleasure for us to come and we want to please everyone."
The international groups will continue to perform throughout the week.
Area locals shared food and drink with guests from all over the world as an eclectic blend of rhythms and instruments kept feet tapping all along the street.
Ben Nadolski of Ogden attended the festivities with his wife, Jaynee, and two young daughters.
Supporters of all things community, Nadolski said events like this provide unique chances to experience an activity a little out of the ordinary.
"It's definitely a great opportunity to come out and learn about different cultures while supporting local vendors," he said. "The archery event is a huge deal for our community."
Wearing their team jerseys, archers mingled with the crowd, drank lemonade, and nibbled on a variety of snacks while taking turns signing autographs at the hospitality booth.
Team USA recurve bow shooter Jacob Wukie said it's nice to be on home turf for this round of the World Cup and noted Tuesday morning's practice session went well.
"It's always nice to be able to compete at a big event when you don't have to take a long plane ride and be jet-lagged," the Oak Harbor, Ohio, native said. "This is a nice area and we're looking forward to competing here."
The competition starts today with a qualification and elimination rounds throughout the morning and afternoon at Weber State University. Finals will be held at Lindquist Field on Friday and Saturday evening, with the closing ceremony scheduled for 8:50 p.m. Saturday.