BOUNTIFUL Davis County residents looking for an international experience this summer can land one without leaving Utah. Dancers from various nations will converge on Bountiful during the first week of August as part of the 20th annual Summerfest International, a weeklong celebration of folk arts and folk dancing sponsored by the Bountiful Davis Art Center.
China, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Romania and Russia are among the countries sending delegations of dancers to participate in the festival, and organizers are looking for families to host dancers from those countries.
Of the 200 dancers lined up to come, one-third to one-half already have a place to spend the week, said Trixie Buckingham, the festival's housing coordinator.
This isn't a responsibility anyone should take lightly, Buckingham said.
Homes are required to have sleeping space for each dancer they would like to host. That means air mattresses or beds.
"Our responsibility as hosts is to make sure our guests are well taken care of," said Sean Pearson, a Layton resident who has hosted dancers the past two years.
Hosts must also commit to providing adequate meals and transportation to and from the Bountiful City Park on time.
And there are some perks.
Host families and the dancers they host will receive complimentary passes to the South Davis Recreation Center for the week.
Sean Pearson, who has hosted dancers from Mongolia and Czech Republic, said he has really enjoyed the dancers who stay at his home.
When Pearson hosted seven Mongolian dancers, one of whom was a contortionist, at his home in 2006, he learned some Mongolian phrases and got by speaking broken Mongolian while the dancers spoke broken English.
And in 2007, some of the Czech dancers who stayed with him engaged in a healthy debate, in English, about the merits of the Republican and Democratic parties.
For many of the dancers, it's their first trip to the United States, and most save up enough money for air fare for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
So, Pearson said, when the dancers aren't dancing, he likes to take them around Utah for some sightseeing.
They've swum in the Great Salt Lake at Antelope Island and walked and shopped at The Gateway mall in Salt Lake City.
Buckingham often gets requests from hosts for dancers from certain countries.
Israel was snapped up quickly this year. So were Greece and Mexico.
But Pearson said he likes to be surprised and is currently awaiting this year's housing assignment from Buckingham.For information on hosting international dancers, contact Buckingham at 801-292-0367.
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