During the course of the weekend, nearly 400 archers/coaches/officials were given welcomes designed to provide a lasting impression as they stepped on South Dakota soil for the first time.
Members from the Yankton Chamber of Commerce, the Yankton County Historical Society, Dakota Territorial Museum and other volunteers waited at the bottom of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport concourse to be one of the first sights archers would see before heading south to Yankton.
That sight included the first glimpse of South Dakota’s western heritage archers will experience during the upcoming week.
“We’ve been doing historic reenactments since I can remember as a very young child,” said Crystal Nelson, director of the Yankton County Historical Society. “When the Chamber and NFAA wanted some historical characters to help enhance the welcome to the archers, we offered to bring out some costumes and head to Sioux Falls.”
Nelson and her mother, Bubbles Mensch, dressed in character as two women during the western settlement era. Nelson’s husband, Chad, played the role of Bruce the Bison.
“Carmen (Schramm, Yankton Chamber of Commerce) wanted help and (Chad) didn’t want to speak, so I said, ‘Well, looks like you’re getting in the costume, then,’ joked Crystal.
The Nelsons and Mensch were relieved later Saturday afternoon so that archers/coaches/official who arrived Saturday evening were welcomed by Calamity Jane and Betty the Bison.
Crystal made the reminder that South Dakota has a well-known history of archers.
“We go back all the way to the Plains Indians,” she said. “Their whole sport stems from functionality rather than play.”
Following the western welcome, archers loaded charter buses provided by School Bus Incorporated (SBI) out of Sioux Falls.
But accounting for the number of archers/coaches/officials was no small task.
On Saturday, 224 guests arrived - the largest group per day. Eight buses traveled from Sioux Falls to Yankton to accommodate for the group.
Friday, June 5, and Sunday, June 7, each received 85 archers/coaches/officials, the second largest days that took three buses.
Due to flight scheduling issues, three teams flew into Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska.
Other transportation arrangements were made for 19 smaller teams or ones that did not coincide with busing times.
Yankton School District buses will provide all local transportation for the World Archery Youth Championships (WAYC), which will conclude Sunday, June 14.
“I think this is a unique opportunity for Yankton and South Dakota,” Crystal said. “I can’t remember the last time multiple communities got together to do something this large for South Dakota. It’s so fun to be a part of it.”
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