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Summer Slam to feature sports again
Basketball was the main attraction at the 2007 Summer Slam, and producer Ernie Walthour said sporting events will return to this years event after a brief hiatus. - photo by Courier file photo

The 22nd annual Summer Slam is scheduled for July 5-7, and this year’s event is returning to its roots.

According to Summer Slam producer Ernie Walthour, the basketball tournament will return. He said the public wanted the event to once again showcase sporting events. In addition to basketball, this year’s Summer Slam also will feature a soccer tournament.

Walthour said Summer Slam started as a 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 basketball tournament, but as the crowds grew, high temperatures and the venue location made hosting an outdoor sporting event unsafe.

"We first started at Joseph Miller Park, but, year by year, we started to outgrow our venue, and with 7,000 to 8,000 people attending … the summer heat and temperatures started to become a big factor," Walthour said. "It was just too hot for that amount of people."

So the slam continued as an annual car and motorcycle show, which featured a live concert by local musicians.

A few years ago, Walthour was able to secure a larger venue site at Salter’s Field. Summer Slam began to draw even more musicians, and the display of cars and bikes expanded. They added an audio decibel drag, allowing folks to compete for the title of best and most powerful car audio system. Last year, Walthour added a family carnival, complete with rides and games.

This year, the carnival will be open from 4-10 p.m. July 4-6 at Salter’s Field at the corner of Oglethorpe and Leroy Coffer highways.

The basketball and soccer tournaments will be held July 5-6 at the St. James Sports Center and Field.

"The people kept asking us to bring it back so, this year, we decided to host the basketball tournament indoors at the St. James Sports Center," Walthour said. "It will be open to teams in sixth through eighth grades."

Walthour said it will be a double-elimination tournament, and the entry fee per team is $100. Registration must be in by June 20. St. James Field, across the street from the basketball gym, is where they will host their first Summer Slam soccer tournament. Walthour said the field is large enough to accommodate spectators, and folks can bring chairs. He also advises onlookers to use sunblock and dress appropriately to protect themselves from harmful rays.

Local soccer coach Tom Sukaratana is managing the soccer tournament, and Walthour said they already have seven teams registered.

While Walthour anticipates a crowd to come out for the carnival and the sporting events, he said roughly 25,000 are expected to arrive for the main event July 7 at Salter’s Field — the car/bike show and live concert.

The gates at Salter’s Field open at 1 p.m. July 7 and admission is $10 per person. Advance tickets are available for a limited time at $5 per person.

At 2 p.m., the audio decibel drag contest begins, and the car and bike show starts at 3 p.m. The live concert starts at 5 p.m. and continues into the evening.

Walthour also is opening the event to food and sales vendors. Anyone who wants to sell food must have a permit issued by the Liberty County Department of Environmental Health.

Vendors must register with Walthour by June 15 and the fee is $50 per day.

For more information, call Walthour at 980-4559 or 884-3016.

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