The Southern Alberta Summer Games (SASG) kicked off on Wednesday in Pincher Creek, the town that hosted the first-ever edition of the games 50 years ago.
More than 2,200 athletes are registered to compete in the four-day event, which showcases 13 regions in southern Alberta.
Each year, the event is held in a different community around the province, and it’s only fitting that 2019 would be hosted by Pincher Creek.
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“It’s so exciting,” said SASG co-ordinator Jill Lynch. “This is the fiftieth, which makes it even more exciting.
“It started in Pincher Creek, so we’re basically coming around right to the beginning. We have lots of people who were involved in the first one in 1970 who are [also] involved in this one.”
Roy Blais was an original organizer of the SASG in 1970. The Lethbridge resident said that by his count, it might be the biggest of such events in the country.
“We set up our own games, and that started 50 years ago,” Blais said. “From then on, we did it every year and it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
For Blais’ family, the games have become an annual tradition that is passed down through the generations.
“Four generations,” Blais said. “I played in the games, my kids played in the games, their kids are now playing in the games… now my great grandkids are playing.”
More than 300 people have volunteered to help the games run smoothly this week, and to make sure that families are enjoying their time in the town.
“I was wandering around for a bit this afternoon,” said Foothills MP John Barlow, who was visiting for the opening ceremonies. “It’s just fantastic to see families enjoying the outdoors and enjoying the community. That’s what it’s all about.”
The games feature 25 events for the athletes to choose from, from cribbage to baseball to track and field.
The spread of age groups competing also varies — registered competitors range from 4 to 92 years old, according to Lynch.
The SASG will continue into the weekend. The final day of competition is on Saturday.
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