St. George, Utah– The Huntsman World Senior Games, which began 30 years ago offering a wide array of sporting events for athletes 50 years and older, is set for Oct. 9-21 at venues throughout the St. George area.
“It’s as big as the Olympic Games and we get to host it here in St. George, Utah, every year,” said Kyle Case, President and CEO of the Huntsman World Senior Games. “The volunteers and the community really come together to make this event happen. We work hard to offer something for everyone here at the Games. We have 30 different sports and we break the competition divisions into 5-year age groups and skill levels where we can. We don’t guarantee that everyone goes home with a medal – you have to earn it – but we do try to give everyone a legitimate shot at one.”
The Huntsman World Senior Games, now the largest event of its kind, was created by Daisy and John H. Morgan Jr. in 1987 to promote good health and physical fitness for men and women at or approaching retirement age. Since its inception, the Games has grown to host nearly 11,000 athletes and involve more than 2,500 volunteers over the two-week athletic festival.
Historically, the event has been a financial boon to the community. In 2016, the Games provided an economic impact of approximately $16.7 million, Case said, as most participants are from outside the St. George area and stay an average of 6.6 days in area hotels.
“While the St. George area has long been known as a retirement mecca, people often assume it is simply because of our mild winters and warm temperatures. While that is a significant factor, what really helps us is the abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, cycling, softball, golf and world-class pickleball facilities,” said Kevin Lewis, Director of the St. George Area Sports Commission. “The Huntsman World Senior Games gives significant exposure to these recreational activities through their event, and the financial windfall our region receives because of it is through the roof.”
Complementing the athletic competitions are two large community events. On Oct. 10, the high-energy Opening Ceremonies at Legend Solar Stadium will feature a parade of athletes, singing and dancing and a fireworks display. James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy, will be the keynote speaker and discuss his feat of completing 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 days in 50 states.
The Games also hosts a free concert and celebration Oct. 17. The show takes place in the Dixie State University Burns Arena at 7 p.m., with a tribute to the Rat Pack featuring portrayals of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. Everyone is invited.
“Rather than just coming and competing and going home, the athletes are really feeling the magic of what goes on here,” Case added. “They might have come to compete, but they’ll come back because they made friends and they want to see them, and enjoy themselves again. In addition, the community itself has really welcomed this event with open arms. I think the event and the community have grown together over 30 years. We know that everyone wants to win, but the friendship and camaraderie they find here is what will bring them back.”
In addition to athletics and entertainment, the Games promote health by providing life-saving screenings for breast cancer and prostate cancer. Screenings also detect other serious health threats, including: glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and decreased bone density.
For a schedule of events, go to seniorgames.net.
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About the Office of Sports and Recreation
The St. George Area Sports Commission was established by the Washington County Commission to help responsibly grow the sports and recreation economy in Washington County, Utah, through the promotion and development of sports, and outdoor recreation.