“This is the best weekend on Earth,” Hoopfest returns to the streets of Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — The largest three-on-three basketball tournament in Spokane made its return on Saturday.

People from across the country filled the streets of downtown Spokane for Hoopfest 2022. Taking in one of the biggest traditions in Spokane, players and spectators were happy and excited to see it return.

With signs blocking off the streets, food vendors selling delicious bites to eat hoopers playing once again, excitement raced through the Lilac City Saturday afternoon.

“It’s amazing,” the team Slo-mo said. “This is the best weekend on earth. This is like a holiday for us since we were kids.”

This is Slo-mo’s 17th year playing in Hoopfest as a family.

With Hoopfest being virtual over the last two years, nothing compares to the return of one of the biggest events in Spokane.

“It’s about time,” Team Slo-mo said. “Two years is too long not to play for Hoopfest.”

Teams came from all over to take part in Hoopfest, playing their hearts out.

For those playing and representing the Inland Northwest, getting to play right in their backyard is a happy sight for many.

“I have never been happier,” a team member from Bombing Buckets said. “I walked in this morning, I saw all the people around, I saw the sun was up. It was a nice day. It feels good to be back. It feels like summer now.”

Executive Director Riley Stockton was planning for the return of Hoopfest for months. It is rewarding for him to see all the smiling faces and enthusiasm surrounding the return of this event.

“It’s a lot of hard work put in by a lot of different people on staff,” Stockton said. “This is what it’s all about. Enjoying these moments, enjoying these games and just being back in the community.”

It’s a tradition that has been welcomed back with open arms to those returning and those playing for the first time.

Morgan Parker has been playing in Hoopfest for almost 10 years. Her teammate, however, is playing in Hoopfest for the first time ever, and Kelly Shafer didn’t realize how big Hoopfest really was until playing.

“I just didn’t realize how big of a scale it is,” Shafer said. “I knew there’d be games going on in the streets, but it’s unbelievable how many people are here and how well organized it is. It’s quite a production.”

Ty Ladiges was supposed to play for the first time last year, but COVID-19 got in the way of those plans. And for those who experienced Hoopfest for the first time, it can be a spectacle.

“I didn’t know Hoopfest was a thing until probably a year ago,” Asah Zeisler said.

Both Zeisler and Wallace Frates moved to the Spokane area in the last several years. They were both in awe of their first experience of Hoopfest.

“It was not what I expected,” Frates said. “I mean, every street is a court or a food stand. It’s a lot busier than I thought. “It’s a good time.”

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