I’ve long wondered what it would take for the entire community of Yankton – or at least more people – to really embrace what our town boasts in the world of archery.

Sunday might have been a giant step in that direction.

The opening ceremony for the upcoming World Archery Youth Championships (WAYC) not only featured the archers from 51 countries, but the hundreds of volunteers for the tournament, as well as probably at least 200 spectators who came to watch.

That’s probably what it will take for the general Yankton citizen to really understand what’s going on out at the Easton Yankton Archery Complex: Seeing it for themselves, in person.

They can read all stories in the Press & Dakotan and probably see some international archers around town, but until you can see for yourself how ‘big’ this tournament is, it’s understandably difficult to grasp. Seeing the line of 52 flags being brought in during Sunday’s Parade of Nations was, even for those of who regularly spend time around archery, an eye-opener. Fifty-two countries. That’s a lot.

In another sense, the way the local WAYC committee organized Sunday’s opening ceremony could also go a long way toward connecting the average Yankton resident with the archery community.

There was the Parade of Nations, followed by brief speeches from a handful of officials, and then a performance by the Osni Ponca Heduska (Warrior) Society. The Native American group encouraged people to come out and dance with them, and that’s exactly what happened. And it was awesome to see.

Not only were volunteers out there having fun, but so too were archers from nearly every country. You couldn’t help but get a kick out of the way some of those archers interacted with each other. They’ll be intense competitors starting Tuesday, but for an hour Sunday, they were in the same boat: Awed by what they saw.

It was the same thing during the buffalo performance. I stood there next to a group of archers from the Netherlands and Germany, and so many other countries, and they were all talking and laughing in their native languages. It was quite the sight.

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