When the State Games of Mississippi began 15 years ago, there was a lot of hope and much promise, but even the most optimistic would have likely never guessed how successful it has been.
In 1992, the first state games had only 12 sports and about 1,800 athletes. It was held over a single weekend.
Now the games have expanded to four weekends and 31 sports, with about 5,000 athletes expected to attend venues in two different cities.
Over the course of its history, an estimated 50,000 athletes have taken part in the games, which are an economic boom for Meridian.
Over the years, economic development officials have estimated it had about a $50 million total impact on Lauderdale County.
And the games brought the opportunity to see some future great athletes. At least one professional athlete, Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt, has taken part in the games.
And who knows? The next great Mississippi athlete may be on one of the fields this weekend.