Organizers and participants have barely had a chance to catch their breath after the Alberta 55 Plus Winter Games in Edmonton in March—now they’re on the road again.

The Alberta Summer Games will take place in the Peace region this weekend. Almost 50 participants will come from Zone 7, which represents northeastern Alberta.

A bus will take the athletes from Cold Lake and Bonnyville to Vermilion, where they will meet another bus coming from Lloydminster. From Vermilion, the team will come together on one bus and make the trek west.

Alberta 55 Plus meets are usually held in odd-numbered years, but the Covid-19 pandemic put a hiccup in the schedule. The winter and summer provincial games are being held in 2022 to qualify participants for the Canada Games in Kamloops in August.

The odd-year schedule will resume in 2023, which means there will be four provincial meets over the course of two years. The next Canada Games will be in 2024 at a location to be determined.

Zone 7 athletes will compete in nine different sports in the Peace region this weekend, with the strongest participation in pickleball and golf. There are 43 participants named to the team, but Zone 7 president Kay Hauer says there have been a few late cancellations.

“We’re finding that June is not a very good month. There are a lot of family things happening,” she said. “But we still have a fairly good representation I think.”

Some of the participants have competed in summer and winter games before, others are going for the first time.

Hauer said the provincial and national competitions are a lot of fun, but the 55 Plus sports movement is firmly planted in the grass roots. Before the pandemic, she said, there was a lot of activity in the zone.

“I’m expecting that we will do that sort of thing again,” she said. 

“For example, last August we had a golf tournament to qualify to go to Peace River and we had 27 people come out. Now we don’t have 27 golfers going, but they did come out and enjoy that day.

“So that’s what we normally do, we have events within the zone where people don’t have to travel so far. And they still have fun.”

Hauer will be retiring from the Zone 7 presidency as soon the board can elect her replacement. She says the younger people in the movement should determine its future direction.

She won’t be at the Summer Games due to family commitments, but she wishes the team well.

“I certainly hope they will all have an enjoyable time most of all, and do well in their competition,” she said. “And if they win and get to go to Kamloops, that’s even better.”