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Buckets of fun: Hoopfest returns for its 24th year

A participant in last year's Hoopfest takes a shot. (Photo courtesy of the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce)

Ostensibly the spring season is upon us, and what better way to warm up and shake out the joints then with a spirited game of basketball—and what better way to play then as part of a friendly community tournament organized by the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce.

"We've tried to take it from more than just a basketball tournament, to turn it into a community event that's more than just for the players to enjoy," Zach Keller, vice president of the board of directors for the chamber and chairman of its recreation committee, said of the event. "We've had a DJ in the past, there's music playing at the event—obviously it's competitive ... but we try to keep it as light as possible."

Not a fundraiser, just fun—the 3 On 3 Hoopfest is a chance for the community to participate in the excitement of a competitive sporting tournament, to experience the thrill of facing off against other teams in a scramble to reach the top of a bracket—but with a lighter touch.

"We just put it on for the community ... to have an outlet to play competitive basketball," Keller said. "It's great because it encompasses a wide range of people, we have fourth grade through adult divisions, it's nice that we have such a wide variety of teams and ages playing and people in the gym and we rotate them so it's not just adults on the main court ... everybody feels they are involved."

It's all a part of the chamber's ongoing mission of community development, according to Sarah Trustem, director of the Chamber of Commerce.

"The root of it is the chamber doing something to help grow and develop the community," Trustem said. "It's not just something adults can enjoy, but entire families potentially. The chamber also does things like set up kids baskets for mini basketball games, we have coloring stations for the little kids ... we'll have Pizza Ranch this year serving lunch."

This is the 24th annual Hoopfest, and Keller said he can remember taking part in it when he was younger. It provided him a rare opportunity.

"I played in it when I was young, probably back in junior high which was the last year I played competitive basketball," Keller said. "It was one of the few basketball tournaments I did."

Keller has been involved with organizing Hoopfest for the past four or five years. The best part about the competition is that it's accessible, for both more serious athletes and the casual crowd.

"A lot of the sports tournaments around are for the traveling teams, they are hyper competitive and it's very focused on the results of the tournament and winning," Keller said. "I like our tournament where we have a lot of people that are able to play in a basketball tournament where basketball is not their main sport, they enjoy it, but it's not their biggest passion ... but they'd love to participate in a tournament."

Hoopfest has grown in popularity over the years, and now draws in participants from within and without Dickinson.

"We have had more and more participants come from out of town for this," Keller said. "We've done more things to try and get the word out there to surrounding communities ... that's one of our goals for a lot of our events at the chamber."

The event will be Sunday, May 6, at Dickinson High School's gymnasium starting at 8 a.m. and going all day. Attendance is free and the event is appropriate for all ages. Early bird registration is still available until April 16, at $80 per team. After that date, team registration will be $100 per team until the deadline of April 30. Teams can register online at the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce website or they can find forms at the chamber office on Third Avenue West in Dickinson. Registration is guaranteed to teams that register prior to April 16. The chamber expects more than 50 teams to participate this year, with a total of 75 to be allowed.