The Dixie Boys World Series is coming back to Newton County in 2012 and will bring several hundred teen baseball players with it.
Dixie Baseball selected the Newton County Recreation Commission to host the regional tournament, marking the fifth time the county has entered a winning host bid. The recreation commission previously hosted the Dixie Boys World Series in 1993, 1997 and 2008 and hosted a Junior Boys World Series in 2002.
Special Events Coordinator Carol Rooks said Dixie Boys officials still talk about the 2008 World Series opening ceremony, which was held on the square.
"We are thrilled to death to be chosen to host the event. Last time in 2008, the Dixie Boys thought (the ceremony) was the best thing that had ever happened." Rooks said. "The fact we’ve hosted four previously says a lot about our community. I’ve heard many Dixie Boys dignitaries say how friendly our community is and what a great place it is."
She hopes to once again have a large ceremony on the square and said the event will take the full two years to plan. In 2008, around 300 local citizens helped organize and run the tournaments and related events. The 2012 event will be held at City Pond Park.
Dixie Boys is a regional youth baseball program for boys 13 and 14 years of age, who play on a medium sized diamond that matches their stage of physical development.
According to the organization’s website, the main purpose of the program is to provide a recreation outlet for as many boys as possible, with emphasis being on local league play rather than tournament play. However, the season does end with an annual World Series tournament, which includes the state champions from 11 southeastern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. In addition, the host city’s team is automatically invited.
Rooks said the World Series tournament provides a great tourism boost to Covington and the county. The recreation commission actually covers the costs of lodging and feeding the players; the Super 8 Motel is the host facility. As far as food, the players will either get daily stipends or the recreation commission will partner with local restaurants to provide meals.
However, all of the additional family members who attend the event pay for their own meals and hotel stays. Rooks said that many families also use the tournament as an opportunity to have a family vacation, including visiting local attractions, particularly if a team is eliminated in the earlier stages.
"It’s a big tourism boost, because families have to eat and they have to buy gas. They can’t be at the ball field the whole time. There’s shopping excursions and trips to the grocery store for snacks for the kids. A lot of local retail businesses and hotels are going to see extra business," Rooks said.
Each of the 12 teams has 15 players, and Rooks said many family members attend. Assuming a family of four comes with each player, more than 700 visitors would visit Covington during the week of August 3 in 2012.
Because of all of the extra visitors, and the large number of young teens attending the tournament, Rooks said the bid package the county submitted contained detailed information on Newton Medical Center and local doctor’s offices.
"Parents want to know about those things," Rooks said. She also included details about all of the local restaurants and hotels in the bid package.
For more information about Dixie Boys visit baseball.dixie.org. To find out how to help the recreation commission plan for the World Series, call its main number at 770-786-4373 and ask for Carol Rooks or Tammy Cheek.