DOBSON — With new events and increased community interest, organizers say this year’s Yadkin Valley Spring Games is going to be one for the record books.
The games, which run through June 12, kicked off Friday morning with opening ceremonies at Fisher River Park in Dobson.
Daniel White, one of the event’s organizers and director of the county’s parks and recreation department, said participation in this year’s games is higher than in previous years.
“Turnout among seniors is up this year from last,” he said. “We ended up this year with 191 participants and that makes this year a record year.”
Last year’s Senior Games featured 187 participants.
White said the opening ceremonies were “beautiful” for the games, which feature more than 70 events ranging from bowling to track and field to arts-based activities.
“It was tons of fun, and when the events kicked off our largest-attended event is once again cornhole, but this year it looks like pickleball is going to be well-attended as well,” he said.
For the uninitiated, pickleball is something of a cross between tennis and table tennis that is played with a wiffleball.
“It’s kind of like table tennis, but it’s played with paddles and a wiffleball and it’s played on a court that’s a little smaller than a tennis court,” White explained. “It’s actually the fastest-growing sport in the nation right now, so we wanted to add it to the lineup. This is the first year it’s been offered as an official event in the games, although we had an exhibition event last year.”
This year, so many entered the pickleball competition the event had to be split to run over two days, according to White.
According to organizer Celena Watson, the oldest athlete competing in the games this year is “a spry 97 years old.”
“We also have many, many competitors in their 80s and 90s,” Watson said.
White said the games are a chance to stay healthy no matter what your age.
“What we like to accomplish out of the games is to keep seniors active while promoting a lifelong healthy lifestyle,” he said. “The games are just tons of fun and they keep growing every year without much advertising at all.”
In addition to staying active, the games offer seniors who may otherwise be stuck at home to get out and socialize.
“It’s an opportunity for seniors to not only improve their physical health, but their social health as well,” White said.
“Seeing them out there active and smiling, we thoroughly enjoy it,” he said. “We get a little bit of a warm feeling seeing everyone out there being active and having a good time.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.