FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — On Thursday, Jan. 27, hundreds gathered at the Fayetteville Square for the opening ceremony for the Cyclo-Cross World Championships with some of the attendees hailing from out of state and outside the U.S.
The event kicked off at 5:30 p.m. with Fayetteville elementary students leading the parade of nations which showcased the 30 plus countries participating in the world championships.
Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan spoke at the event along with officials with UCI, the organization over the Cyclo-Cross World Championships.
Cyclo-Cross fans Kathleen Pierce and Jim Grasso traveled from New York to watch the action in person and say they have been following the sport for the past 10 years
“We don’t’ follow a lot of football or baseball. But It’s like Cyclo-Cross is the sport we follow,” Pierce said.
This weekend of Cyclo-Cross isn’t only bringing in people from across the nation, but the world.
Stijn Vlaeminck, Journalist at VTM in Belgium is in town covering the championships and says it’s his first time in Arkansas.
“I’ve seen this area from ‘Ozark,’ the Netflix series,” Vlaeminck said.
These visitors will be exploring Northwest Arkansas, boosting our economy.
“Supporting local businesses of all kinds,” shouted Mayor Jordan when welcoming tourists to Fayetteville.
One of the businesses already seeing the impact of the economic boost is Tiny Tim’s Pizza off the Fayetteville Square.
“Business has been booming man,” said Soljah Evans Boom, employee at Tiny Tim’s. “ Nothing but people here.”
Throughout Thursday, the business employees say customers have been filing into the restaurant.
“Definitely a lot of people who seem like they are traveling internationally for this event and that’s been the coolest part of this experience,” Boom said. “Seeing all the different walks of life come together.”
Experience Fayetteville expects more than 20 million people to watch coverage of the championships worldwide.
"It’s probably the mecca of mountain biking in the future,” Grasso said.
Organizers are being mindful of the coronavirus pandemic and are requiring masks, even canceling a scheduled gala event.
Cyclo-Cross events are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you are planning to attend the 2022 Cyclo-Cross World Championship, parking will not be available, you will have to take a shuttle. To find the shuttle route and buy tickets click here.
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