TAMWORTH'S Riverside Sporting Precinct will be abuzz with action this long weekend as the Tamworth Baseball Association hosts its 51st annual baseball carnival.
Featuring teams from as far away as Queensland, Canberra and Shoalhaven, the three-day carnival is one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.
More than 40 teams will be taking part in this year's event and will be competing in six different divisions.
Event co-ordinator Warren Radford said this year's carnival would be "one of the biggest yet".
"There's going to be 49 teams competing at this year's carnival," Radford told the Leader.
"They are coming from all over too, which is great.
"All up there will be 150 games played over the weekend, including the finals on Monday."
Tamworth will be looking to make a major impact in several grades, including the Tamworth women's team in F grade.
"A lot of the regular Tamworth players will be broken up into different teams," Radford said.
"In my view, the chance to play with people you normally wouldn't get to is a major draw card of this carnival.
"For example, I know there are plenty of Warriors and Cougars players coming together in A grade.
"As well as a few Warriors players playing with the Gunnedah Giants in E grade.
"It's a special thing to see everyone come together for the weekend."
Radford said the region's recent rainfall had been "ideal" for the Riverside fields.
"In terms of preparation, we are actually ahead of the game this year," he said.
"Everything is coming along really well and we are pretty much set up.
"That rain we had recently has really helped the fields.
"They should now be quite lush with just the right amount of firmness under foot. I think that will be the case for all of the fields too, which should mean everyone gets to play on a quality surface."
The round-robin style tournament will see games capped to a 1 hour and 30 minute time limit, with a five-run mercy rule in place.
"Honestly, I think this year's carnival has the potential to be the most even one yet," Radford said.
"I know all of the teams that usually compete here in the Tamworth competition are pretty even and I think there will be some strong teams travelling here as well.
"It is one of the most anticipated events on our calendar and I think everyone is really looking forward to it.
"Hopefully it should be a great weekend."
The action begins at 8am on Saturday with the finals starting on Monday.