One of the largest regatta's in North America returns to the waters of St. Andrew's Noxontown Pond in Middletown this weekend.

The Howard M. Smith Diamond State Regatta is back for a remarkable 23rd time, and for the first time in the event's history, races will continue over 2 days of competition.

Back in 1991, Howard M. Smith and John Schoonover started the Diamond State Regatta to produce an event locally for others interested in rowing. Now, 23 years later the Diamond State Regatta has turned into one of the largest regatta events in the entire country.

Saturday and Sunday's races will feature over 1,000 rowers and 74 different clubs coming from Delaware, the surrounding East Coast and as far away as Arizona.

"We'll have over 470 boats (competing)," said PR Chair for Delaware State Masters and the Wilmington Rowing Center Diane McGrellis. "The race has grown exponentially and last year we decided to make it a two-day event due to the high amount of entries."

The Delaware State Masters and the Wilmington Rowing Club have done a remarkable job helping turn the First State Regatta into not only an event rowers around the country want to attend, but a popular event among the locals.

"We have over 1,000 rowers from as far away as Arizona with a total of 74 clubs competing," said McGrellis. "The quality of the venue and DSM organization has made the regatta so popular."

While the race is extremely popular among the rowing community, some who have never attended a regatta or rowing race of any kind may be a little skeptical. However, McGrellis offered up reasons for folks to attend if they're on the fence about heading out to beautiful Noxontown Pond this weekend.

"The race is very spectator friendly," said McGrellis. "You can see most of the race course, there is no admission, free parking and there is always food and beverages available. It's peaceful and very quiet."

McGrillis estimates that there will be 40-50 Delawareans competing this weekend, the action starts this Saturday with the first races to get underway at 9:00 a.m.