Fans and businesses excited as Down East Wood Ducks season gets underway

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 11:44 PM EDT
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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) -Down East Wood Ducks faithful piled into Grainger Stadium Thursday night for opening day. It’s a day that fans like Brian Aldridge believe can’t be fully put into words.

“They call it Down East for a reason,” Aldridge said. “They want people from all over the east to come. They’ve got a great facility, venues, and I think the team is going to be good.”

This year’s squad looks a little different with the addition of some new players and a new manager, but fans say their expectations are the same.

People say watching Wood Ducks pitchers compete on the mound is exciting and all, but the best part to them is getting some mouthwatering food after the game.

Raynodd Koonce would argue that Kings Bar-B-Que and Chicken is the hottest spot in town to go all season long.

“We are loaded with chicken and barbecue,” Koonce said. “The barbecue is just going out the window and chicken is flying. They really love this place when they come out to the game, they pull in busloads.”

Many believe having a minor league team in the east brings in tons of revenue to the city of Kinston and new businesses like Beary Smokey Smokehouse in downtown.

Owner Fernando Hicks says the visiting Kannapolis Cannon Ballers came to eat at Beary Smokey on Wednesday night, which he believes was a step in the right direction as his restaurant continues to grow.

“They were like we’re playing the Wood Ducks tomorrow and that’s what I’ve been waiting for,” Hicks said. “The visiting and hometown crowds coming in to have food for the ball game.”

There’s no secret the Texas Rangers Single-A affiliate team gives Kinston a vibe that can’t be matched and many would say that’s due to the fan support.

The Wood Ducks will be back in action against the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers for game two of the three-game series Friday.