This year, pickleball is part of Pioneer Day festivities.
Ogden entrepreneur/philanthropist John Gullo partners with Downtown Ogden, Inc. to bring the growing sport, along with a country concert, as a bonus to the week's events.
Gullo, a pickleballer in his own right, hopes the tournament, July 19 through July 21, brings in out-of-state pickleball aficionados and shows them firsthand Ogden's appeal. Spectators can watch for free.
The pickleball courts (alongside the tennis complex at Mount Ogden Park, at Constitution Way and Taylor Ave.) have already drawn a devoted local following. Many players are middle-aged or older, and former tennis or racquetball players seeking a game that's a bit easier on aging joints and muscles.
"This tends to be a baby-boomer wintertime sport," said Gullo. "Because of that, it's big in the really hot states like Arizona, where people don't really want to be in the middle of the summer."
Gullo said he has people signed up from all over the country and Southern Utah, as well as a lot of local players.
"We have such a beautiful setting," he said. "My whole idea is to wow the visitors, and make them tell their friends ... 'You've got to go there next year.' "
The fee to enter the tournament is $35. This includes assorted discount coupons to local attractions like the Mount Ogden Golf Course, iFly, a gondola ride at Snowbasin and admittance to the Union Station museums.
Also included in the packet: a commemorative pin (pickleball-sporting cowboy hat), a tournament T-shirt, a Pioneer Day rodeo voucher,and free admittance to the Billy Dean concert at the Ogden Amphitheater.
"I told Downtown Ogden, Inc. I would put on a concert, too. And I am really good friends with Billy Dean, and he was happy to do it. It'll be a good fit. So on the 18th, when they are having all the opening events for Pioneer Days on 25th Street, and then Billy will play at 8 p.m., it's going to be a fun addition to Ogden's Pioneer Day celebration."
The tournament starts at 8 a.m. all three days. Men's doubles are Thursday, July 19, with women's doubles July 20. July 21 brings mixed doubles competition. Players will be paired by skill level. Prizes are given for first, second and third places.