Something special is brewing next weekend in Beaufort, with the Dixie Boys World Series set to get under way with opening ceremonies Friday night and five days of wall-to-wall baseball to follow.
But don't take my word for it.
Ask any of the players who represented Beaufort in the Dixie Boys World Series two years ago in Seneca. Or ask any of the Bluffton players who were on the first Beaufort County team to serve as host of a Dixie World Series three summers ago. Or ask any of the Hilton Head players who won Dixie World Series titles in 1999 and 2001.
It's an experience the players and coaches for the 12 teams involved won't soon forget -- and I know this because I can recall most of the highlights from the two Dixie World Series I've witnessed in the past three years, and I was just covering them.
But that's to be expected.
Two things that might surprise someone taking in their first Dixie World Series are the quality of play -- I fully expect to see some of the kids who played in the 2008 Junior Dixie Boys World Series in Bluffton and the 2009 Dixie World Series in Seneca playing major college ball, if not pro ball -- and the sheer number of folks who flock to Burton Wells Park starting next weekend.
The event draws quite a crowd, with families from 11 Southern states making the pilgrimage to cheer on their boys of summer, some ringing cowbells or bringing catchy (if sometimes obnoxious) chants or clever signs.
They'll fill up the hotels, keep the restaurants full and browse the shops in between ball games.
It is a bit worrisome, though, that Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services is still lacking for volunteers for that week. An event like this doesn't come off without a whole lot of helping hands.
It's a chance for Beaufort to put its best foot forward, not just on the baseball field, where a group of players that came within an eyelash of playing their way into a Dixie World Series two summers ago will finally get their chance, but also in terms of its Southern hospitality.
Folks in Seneca two years ago were still raving about spending a week in Bluffton the previous year, and given Beaufort's charm and beauty, as well as its wealth of fine dining options, this group of visitors surely will be impressed, too.
If all goes well, many of them might just want to come back to visit, and the Dixie Baseball brass might want to make Beaufort a regular stop in their World Series rotation.
And that would be pretty special. But don't take my word for it. Get out there next weekend and see for yourself.