It’s been nearly three years since the City and County of Grande Prairie put in a bid for the 2018 Alberta Summer Games, and the event has finally arrived. The games officially kicked off Thursday night with rainy opening ceremonies at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum.
More than 2,800 athletes, coaches, and officials have come to the region for the games, which showcase athletes aged 11 to 17 in 13 different sports at more than 15 venues. Games chair Lionel Robins says the festivities are going to be hard to miss.
“Hotels are booked solid, restaurants are going to be busy, there’s going to be traffic everywhere. People that say they want to avoid the games are going to have a tough time because we made sure that the games are going to be all over the City and County.”
It’s estimated that games this size will have a $3 million direct impact on the community. Robins also hopes it means future tourism.
“We wanted people who maybe didn’t have northern, northern Alberta on their travel destinations, that live right in our province, to come up and go, ‘holy smokes, there’s so much to do here.’ I think the town and county clean up real nice when we put some elbow grease into it.”
That shining has been a combined effort of the games committee and all of the featured venues and communities. Robins is impressed by the support they have gotten since even before the area was announced as hosts.
“What we’ve found is some of the organizations we’ve dealt with and towns and municipalities have gotten so behind us. The smaller towns where we’re having some of the venues are literally out putting up banners and painting stuff we didn’t ask them to paint and just getting the place ready to show us what they’ve got.”
In addition to the sporting competitions, spectators can visit a Tipi Village Friday and Saturday at Revolution Place, entertainment stages at the Community Knowledge Campus Grandstand and Legion Field, a family carnival at Revolution Place Saturday, and a special games collection at the Grande Prairie Public Library.
The games run through Sunday, and will wrap up with the closing awards at the Community Knowledge Campus field. Full information on the event can be found here.