Nearly 4,000 square dancers and participants are converging on Little Rock for the 63rd National Square Dance Convention. Some are traveling from as far away as Germany, Japan, Sweden, Great Britton, the Netherlands, Australia and the Philippians.
The opening ceremony is set for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center. Events will then take place there, at the Little Rock Marriott and Robinson Center through Saturday evening.
Wayne and Lura Wade of Batesville are general chairs of the event and have been working since 2009 to bring it to Arkansas. The convention features not only opportunities for people to dance, but to discuss every aspect of square dancing, the clothing that goes with it and a class on how to call square dances.
"We really enjoy promoting and exchanging ideas. It's a great benefit to all the dancers, it's good publicity for square dancing or dancing in Arkansas and that's one of the benefits we'll get out of it," Wayne Wade said. "Another benefit, on a personal note, is that we have met a lot of people from around the world and in the United States and we'll get to see all them. They'll be here."
On the streets around the venues, Wade says participants will draw attention.
"You're going to see a lot of colors down here, a lot of frilly outfits and it's going to be a spectacle, I guess."
After Wednesday's opening, events will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.
The public is invited to attend. The group says dance viewing and seminar attendance is $5 per person. Dance participation is $75 per person.
"We have all kinds of dancing from line dancing, clogging, contra, we have a youth hall, we have what's called mainstream square dancing, plus square dancing challenge, round dancing, so just about any kind of dancing," Lura Wade said.
The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau says the convention will be a boost to area businesses, including an estimated 3,500 hotel rooms being booked. Events at Robinson Center will mark the final activities there before it closes to begin a $68 million renovation project.
The National Square Dance Convention is a non-profit education organization, which says funds raised during the event go toward dance programs during and after the gathering. To learn more visit http://www.63nsdc.com.