By T. Scott Boatright
It wasn’t that long ago that the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitor’s Bureau rebranded itself as “Experience Ruston.”
The CVB will have to live up to the moniker this weekend as it deals with one of the biggest tourism experiences ever to come to Rusotn and Lincoln Parish.
This reason Ruston will not only play host to the Louisiana Peach Festival on Saturday, but will also host more than 50 teams playing in a travel softball tournament at the Ruston Sports Complex as well as a NCAA Baseball Regional that will be played at J.C. Love Field on the Louisiana Tech University campus.
Experience Ruston President President and CEO Amanda Quimby Carrier admits the weekend wasn’t something her organization saw coming earlier this year.
“This is certainly not something I would have anticipated at the beginning of this year,” Carrier said. “But while not expected, it is certainly welcomed. We look forward to showing off our incredible city to visiting teams and fans.”
All the goings on will make for one of the busiest area weekends ever.
“To my knowledge, hotels in Ruston are completely booked,” Carrier said. “This weekend stands to be a significant economic boost for Ruston & Lincoln Parish and our surrounding areas. Spillover for the weekend will reach Shreveport/Bossier, Monroe/West Monroe, and more of north Louisiana.”
It all means a needed injection of revenue to the city and parish.
“Our crew will be station downtown at the Louisiana Peach Festival, but we’ve been working closely with Louisiana Tech, the Ruston Sports Complex, and our local businesses to ensure everyone is prepared as possible for the weekend ahead,” Carrier said. “We’re extremely grateful for close partnerships in exciting times like this.
“Many successful tournaments at the Ruston Sports Complex have already started paving the way for our area to be the leading host for youth sports, but the NCAA Regional Tournament in Ruston is history making for Louisiana Tech University. We’re incredibly proud of their team and are excited to see more opportunities like this come their way. This is tremendous win for our area, our surrounding parishes, and our community who will see the many positive effects from these economic events.”
Carrier said she believes Ruston is ready for the big weekend despite not having advanced notice of the NCAA Regional in addition to the other two events.
“Ruston had a glimpse into visitation like this in July of 2019 when the Dixie Youth World Series was hosted at the Ruston Sports Complex,” Carrier said. “Our community rallied around that event and they’ll welcome these visitors with the same hospitality! It’s by complete chance that we would be hosting the Louisiana Peach Festival during this weekend, but it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase local talent and share our love for this area with visitors from across the country, some of whom never having visited the state of Louisiana. It’s an incredible opportunity and we’re looking forward to being a part of it.”
The Marucci Fastpitch Softball Tournament will feature 44-50 teams playing on Saturday and Sunday at the Ruston Sports Complex.
It will feature teams from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas with 27-30 of those teams staying overnight in the area, according to Sports Complex Director Amanda Lonadier.