There will be children everywhere you look this weekend.
You'll find them in the restaurants, floating down the Yampa River and just hanging out in town.
And, no, it's not another week of Triple Crown.
However, unless you had your heart set on seeing youngsters swinging bats and fielding grounders, you will not be disappointed.
The 20th annual Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament showcases everything great about youth soccer.
It's a chance to watch future stars on the field and enjoy a beautiful mountain setting at the same time. No wonder it's one of the most popular events of the summer.
The event, which typically fills to capacity months in advance, will take up every field from Christian Heritage School to Strawberry Park Middle School. Youth soccer teams from Denver, Texas and several other states will participate.
Don't even try to swing a baseball bat in Steamboat this weekend; you'll probably hit a soccer player.
This tournament has built a reputation for bringing out the best in youth sports. Teams are expected to be competitive, but one of the main goals is to promote good sportsmanship.
More than a dozen Steamboat teams are playing this weekend, so there is no excuse not to get out and cheer for friends and family.
But this tournament is about a lot more than winning games and capturing tournament titles.
The hope of the Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association is that the money raised by the event will support Steamboat's traveling teams and coaching fees, efforts that go a long way toward improving the level of soccer in our area.
Thanks to 300 volunteers and a dedicated group of people who organize the event each year, everybody profits.
Today, Steamboat has one of the strongest youth soccer programs on the Western Slope. Our high school teams, the product of a solid youth program, contend for state titles most years.
So while this weekend might seem like the latest event in a long line of summer youth tournaments, don't be fooled.
Sure, most of the players and fans in town this weekend are tourists who help support Steamboat's economy by eating out and buying T-shirts, but the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament isn't just another chamber of commerce event.
Its main objective is to promote the health of Steamboat's soccer programs.
This is Ski Town USA, but each summer, the white slopes give way to fields of green. Our children trade in their skis for cleats and prove that quality soccer -- and quality soccer tournaments -- are not limited to the Front Range.
In Steamboat, it's easy to think that all youth tournaments are about attracting tourists, but the truth is that some youth tournaments are simply about children.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org