The Northwoods Baseball Classic returns to Don Burnside Park in Three Lakes this weekend.

The tournament was founded in 2017, and according to organizer Jason Stebbeds, is considered by many the premier annual youth baseball tournament in northern Wisconsin.

“We owe a lot to Three Lakes being a good tourist destination,” said Stebbeds. “We get a lot of teams that represent North, South, East and West Wisconsin. We’ve also had teams from Illinois in the past and this year we have a team from Iron Mountain, Mich.

“They look forward as much to playing in the tournament as they do to being at a cabin on the lake, or renting a boat, or cookouts.”

In total, the tournament has twenty-five teams registered this year, all who will compete across three separate divisions.

Don Burnside Park is the host site, and has four professionally-maintained ball diamonds. The complex is named after a man who was a long-time Three Lakes Park Board President and provided endless hours of community support.

Stebbeds currently serves as the chairman of the Park Commission, and looks forward to working the event this year as his group will showcase all that the Three Lakes area has to offer.

“I just love the place,” Stebbeds said of Don Burnside Park. “We’re pretty proud of it.”

The park has undergone a number of improvements across the last few years in particular, and proceeds from tournaments like the Classic are what help.

“We have a seven-member board that works hard,” said Stebbeds, about the commission. “And this weekend we will also get a lot of parents that have children playing either baseball or softball at Three Lakes who sign-up and help over the weekend.”

Stebbeds noted the tournament also gets a lot of support from area businesses.

“We’ve been blessed and each year it grows a little bit more and that’s very much appreciated,” he said. “It helps offset costs for concessions and getting the fields prepped and making sure our facility looks top notch.

“All the money generated through the tournament gets put back, in one form or another, for improving the parks, whether that’s Burnside, Cy Williams Park, Phyllis B. Felland Memorial Water Ski Park, or the beach area.”

Teams this weekend will compete in three separate age divisions; 12U, 13U and 14U. Games will begin at 2:15 Friday afternoon, resume Saturday morning at 8 a.m. and Sunday morning at 7:15. Winners in each division will receive unique trophies.

“We have some creative people that design the award plaques,” said Stebbeds. “Teachers at the Three Lakes FAB LAB are generous with their time helping us with the laser engraving that is done on them.

“They take log slices and engrave an outline of the state of Wisconsin, plus little baseballs indicating the cities participating in each age bracket. We’ve gotten feedback on how neat that is.”

Stebbeds invited baseball fans from around the area to come to the games.

“They don’t have to be involved with the teams to come out and enjoy some very good youth baseball, nice facilities and great food during a weekend at the ballpark,” he said.

There is no admission charge to attend the games. More information available online at northwoodsbaseballclassic.com.