By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Missouri's annual Show-Me State Games is ready to make a strong comeback this summer after being forced to cancel last year.
The Show-Me State Games, for years, has partnered with Shelter Insurance to put on the 'Shelter Insurance Torch Run,' a traveling event that makes its way through multiple Missouri cities, promoting the annual state games.
That Torch Run made its final stop in St. Joseph Monday.
State games officials, along with representatives from the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau, Parks and Recreation and several community members gathered at Bartlett Park for a brief torch lighting ceremony and then a quick run around the park with the torch.
Dave Fox, the Show-Me State Games executive director, says the torch lighting ceremony is always a must before the annual games get started.
"That's one thing if you go back to the very early days of the Olympics, there's one common thing and that's a torch," Fox said. "We are an Olympic-style sports festival and I think that's a common denominator between the Olympics many years ago and where we are today."
This marks the 37th year of the Show-Me State Games, which get started June 10-13 in Columbia with the Senior State Games.
The events resume with Week 1 of the state games July 16-18 and Week 2 July 23-25 - also in Columbia.
Needless to say, organizers are excited to be back and hold the in-person event again this year.
"This is the year," said Anna Hargis, a member of the Show-Me State Torch Running Committee. "Let's do this. Let's get back together. Let's hang some medals around some kids' and some seniors' necks as well."
Hargis is also the director of advertising for Shelter Insurance - one of the original sponsors of the state games. Before St. Joseph, she had traveled with the Torch Run Committee over the last few days to St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Joplin, Kansas City and other places.
"I love traveling the state," she said. "St. Joseph is beautiful. What a fun place to visit and to learn about the people here and to come encourage them to compete in the games."
Missourians can register for the games at smsg.org. They have more than 40 sports to pick from. From pickle ball to powerlifting. From football to fencing.
"We think we have something for everyone," Fox said. "I don't care what your ability or age is, or how good you are at something. We're about getting engaged in an active, healthy lifestyle. We're very fortunate we offer a statewide opportunity to showcase that."
Missouri has seen anywhere from 35,000-40,000 participants at the state games in the past.
While the Show-Me State Games is a statewide event, Fox says St. Joseph legend and former State Games executive director Gary Filbert had a huge influence on the games.
A graduate of Benton, Filbert was Missouri Western's first men's basketball coach and helped form the Missouri Basketball Coaches' Association.
"He has everything with me being here today," Fox said of Filbert. "There's a definitely a connection a long way back. But, we are truly a statewide organization. We'll get participation from all four corners of the state."
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