COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — After a long day on the water the competitors and their families were treated to good food, good music, and some downhome Southern hospitality.

The Historic District Preservation Society held a neighborhood cookout and invited the visitors from Finland to Japan for hamburgers, hot dogs, and a good time.

Dozens of Historic District neighbors volunteered to make the cookout a success.

More than 300 people gathered along Front Avenue near the river.

It was a good time and fellowship on the eve of the competition.

Whitewater Express owner Dan Gilbert said it was a perfect way to make an impression on the visitors.

“I am not sure any other place in the world can compete with Southern hospitality,” he said. “I am hearing that from these athletes. The athlete experience is so important at all of these events.”

One of these competitors, John Best of Nottingham, England, agreed

“The hospitality is brilliant. Everyone is super friendly and really kind,” Best said. “They can’t do enough for you. That is what it feels like. They can’t do enough to help you out, which is really amazing. We feel really welcome.”

Gilbert says another gathering is planned for later in the week in Midtown as the Columbus kayak community shows off the city.