BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — McQuade’s Tournament is taking place this weekend in Bismarck, where there’s always so much fun and has a lot of tradition behind it.

KX News was able to talk with some of McQuade’s legends, who have helped build the tournament from the ground up.

1976, a year that Jerry Gooch, Larry Eidsness and Kelby Smith will never forget.

That was the year Sam McQuade started the softball tournament that is now known as McQuade’s. 103 teams in four divisions traveled to Bismarck to compete and the rest is history.

“1976, Sam McQuade Sr. and Reggie Morelli. Sam had the distributorship in Bismarck and Reggie had it in Minot. And the first beer, it wasn’t the Budweiser McQuade tournament in 1976, it was the Olympia beer in 1976. And we sold Olympia and so did Sam,” said Jerry Gooch, a 47-time McQuade’s player.

Since the first tournament 47 years ago, Gooch, Smith, and Eidsness have made the drive from Minot to Bismarck in a van loaded with friends and softball gear every June.

Since the tournament’s inception, Jerry Gooch and his teammates have inspired generations of softball teams to join the McQuade’s tradition.

“It’s just a good time with friends, year in and year out. So, it’s basically friendship and trying to win some ball games,” said Larry Eidsness, a 47-time McQuade’s player.

“Everyone seems to gather after the game. And Gooch has always been good about, you know, he will get the beer, the refreshments, the food and we all just get around and give each other a hard time once in a while,” said Kelby Smith, a 47-time McQuade’s player.

When the group began a recreation softball league together on Thursday nights in Minot, a love for the game started to grow into a tradition.

They made so many memories and remember their championship wins like it was yesterday.

“In 1998, they were ahead of us 17-5, two outs, the bottom of the fifth and if we make another out, we get ten runs. Well, we scored like 15 runs with two outs, and we went on to beat them 27-22, and we won The McQuade that year,” said Gooch.

The legends hope they can continue to play in as many McQuade’s tournaments as their bodies will let them. They hope the competition can continue to inspire more teams and friendships and keep Sam McQuade’s legacy alive.

The event this year has 422 teams in 15 divisions and has raised over $2 million since the first year. This weekend is going to be the biggest one yet.

Many families are expected to come out and enjoy some softball this weekend. As always, they say it’s fun for the whole family!