LAURINBUIRG — The heart of Scotland County is about to open its collective arms to more than 1,000 visitors on Friday with the opening ceremonies for the Dixie Softball State Championships. It’s reportedly the first time all of the Dixie softball age groups are converging on one place at the same time.
“This is huge for Scotland County as a whole,” said County Chairman Whit Gibson. “We really have to commend everyone who had a part in making this a reality.”
The opening ceremonies — which will be held Friday starting at 5:30 p.m. at the James L. Morgan Recreation Complex in Laurinburg — will include comments from guest speaker Brittany Bennett, the head coach of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke softball team.
Shortly after, beginning at 6 p.m., the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce will present its Laurinburg After Five concert featuring the Asheboro-based band Bantum Rooster, which will keep the crowd crowing about its mix of Carolina Beach music and contemporary sounds. The concert is free and there will be beverages and food vendors available. No coolers will be allowed, but people are invited to bring chairs — and expect a crowd.
“The biggest thing about this event is that it will bring folks here who probably wouldn’t come to Scotland County otherwise,” said Chris English, executive director of the Chamber. “We’re inviting these visitors into our home, so to speak, so we really want to give them a good experience so they’ll want to come back.”
That sentiment resonated with Gibson, as well.
“This is a big feather in Scotland County’s cap, so we all need to take advantage of it by showing just how welcoming and friendly we are,” Gibson said.
Although everyone is looking forward to some top-notch youth softball competition at both the Complex and Optimist Park between Saturday and Wednesday, there are numerous other areas where the positive ripple effects of so many visitors will be felt.
“We hope those who come here will take advantage of what our county has to offer away from the softball fields,” English said. “That includes restaurants, the stores and even things like the many attractions we have here — including the movie theater, the John Blue House and others.”
While many of the visitors will be here supporting their own hometown team, there will also be a trio of all-star teams from Scotland County for the local fans to cheer for along the way.
“We hope our local folks will come out, support the local girls and just enjoy everything that’s going on,” Gibson said.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]