By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The roaring sound of spectators cheering, aluminum bats connecting with baseballs, and the occasional smoke from grills cooking cheeseburgers arising above historic Municipal Stadium means only one thing — the annual Tarboro Easter Classic Baseball Tournament has begun.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of what some have called one of the "best high school baseball tournaments that they have ever attended."
The host Tarboro Vikings have won the tournament three times while their county neighbors, SouthWest Edgecombe, have four title notches on their belts.
"We always have a great turnout and we are looking for a great turnout this year also," said Charles Johnson, the president of Tarboro Vikings Booster Club. "Everything is shaping up pretty good."
Johnson added, "We usually cook somewhere around 1,200 pounds of hamburger and I don't know how many hot dogs. "Some people come just to get a cheeseburger for lunch and come back at dinner and get one."
The three-day tournament kicked of Wednesday. The championship game is scheduled to be played 7 p.m. Friday night. The Vikings and Cougars are once again in the field, along the defending champions Jefferson Forrest. Other participants include first-time visitor, Jefferson Area High School of Jefferson Ohio, along with Lawrence Academy, Timber Creek of Sicklerville, NJ, Bunn, and St. Maria Goretti of Hagerstown, Md. St. Maria has also participated each year. So far the tournament has kicked off without a glitch.
"Everything is going just fine," said Charles Johnson. "We just hope that the weather doesn't spoil anything."
The tournament is the only major fund-raiser for the Vikings Booster Club. Proceeds from the tournament provides funds for baseball and other non-revenue producing sports.
"The tournament has been fantastic for the school and our community," Johnson said. "The people from out of town boost our economy and the proceeds helps make our athletic programs successful."
Out-of-town fans stay at local motels and eat in local restaurants — when not enjoying the ball park delicacies.
For 10 years, the Tarboro Golden K Kiwanis Club has manned the gates. The friendly seniors are the first people that out-of-towners see and they greet them with traditional Southern hospitality.
"The guys look forward to it every year," Charlie Johnson, president of Golden K. Kiwanis. "Some of the people we've seen from previous years and we have gotten to know them. We're here to make them feel welcome."
Bunn Coach Leonard Allen said he always felt welcome when he attended. Allen, who played for SouthWest Edgecombe, is likely the only person who has played in the tournament and also is the head coach in the tournament.
"When I became a coach, I knew that if I ever got a chance to play in the tournament I would take do it," he said. "I love the music, I love the food and I love the competition. It's awesome."
The tournament kicked-off Tuesday with the annual home run derby and pig pickin', followed by four games. Games resume at 11 this morning.
For details of Wednesday's games, see Page 5.