“Play ball!”

These words will be ringing out in Dawson City this Labour Day weekend. From Sept. 2 to 5, teams from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska will converge on two ball diamonds to compete in the Labour Day Slo-Pitch Classic Tournament.

This annual, mixed tournament has been a 30-year tradition in Dawson, says Dawn Kisoun, president of the Dawson Slo-Pitch Association, and organizer of the tournament.

“Lots of people enjoy beer and a good ball game.”

Kisoun is no stranger to baseball. Since the age of 12 she has practically lived on a ball field while growing up in Inuvik, as well as later on in Whitehorse and then Dawson City.

“Baseball is life,” she says. “The rest is details.”

The tournament is funded by a grant from the City of Dawson, along with sponsorship by Whitehorse Beverages. The action will be split up throughout the weekend between two locations: Minto Park in town, and Crocus Bluff, which is just outside of the city centre. The umpire in charge will make up the play schedules before the tournament starts, deciding who plays whom and where.

Each team has 10 fielders; because it’s a mixed competition, five of the players must be women. Four games will be played from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday at Minto Park. The round robin takes place all day Saturday at Crocus Bluff, and the final playoffs take place on Sunday.

There will also be a concession at both locations where fans can buy snacks and beverages.

There is a $300 entry fee, with a limit of up to 18 teams. Prizes range from $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. Most valuable player shirts for both male and female are given out, as well as shirts for the champions.

Kisoun points out that a Canadian team hasn’t won in 20 years. Two years ago, however, a team came close, placing third.

This standing does not discourage local teams from entering the tournament. Danny Dowhal, a ball player for the West Dawson Blues, says his team is excited at the prospect of signing up for the tournament again this year.

The West Dawson Blues play one to two games per week against other local teams in the Dawson Slo Pitch Mixed League. The season runs from May to September. All season, says Dowhal, the team keeps the goal of the tournament in mind as they strive hard to play their best and hone their skills.

Normally, the winner of the Dawson league get to enter the tournament for free. As the final game is being held after Labour Day this year and the winner will therefore be unknown during the classic tournament, Dowhal’s team will pay the entry fee in order to participate.

“The Dawson League is competitive, with a mix of skills and levels,” he says. “It’s recreational and fun. Playing against some really good teams during the tournament will force us to play to the max of our abilities. We’re looking forward to that challenge.”

Registration for the Labour Day Slo Pitch Classic Tournament closed on Aug. 21.

For more information contact the Klondike Visitors Association at 867-993-5575.