Lake of the Ozarks hosts international competition

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CAMDENTON - First responders from seven countries are at the Lake of the Ozarks competing in a variety of sports for the 2018 Canadian-American (CAN-AM) Games.
Athletes include members of law enforcement, fire services and emergency medical services along with protective service personnel. Their spouses can also compete. 
Lagina Fitzpatrick, of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the event brings many people to the lake area, including more than 1,500 competitors.
“It’s great exposure, we are bringing our heroes from all over the country," she said. "We get to show off the lake, and they’ll come back as visitors, possibly buy homes, and just expose them to our beautiful piece of paradise that we have here.”
Gina Deandrea, a co-owner of Chuckwagon Cafe in Camdenton, said she hopes the Can-Am Games brings more customers in. 
“It’s wonderful when people from all over are coming right here in our little town,” she said. “We’re excited, and so we’re hoping that they’ll pop in and to have a little bit to eat with us.”
Deandrea said events like this help local businesses economically.
“When certain things come to the lake it’s always important for us because that’s generating more income for us,” she said. “With big functions like this, it’s good for all of my employees. We all get to work extra hours.”
Athletes in the state will also benefit from the event. Proceeds from the games will go to Special Olympics Missouri. So far, $16,000 has been raised, Fitzpatrick said.
The Can-Am Games started in 1977, and their location rotates between the United States and Canada. Fitzpatrick said this is farthest south the games have been.
“Not only are we hosting 2018, we are also hosting in 2020,” she said. “We’re the first destination to be awarded back-to-back games.”
Fitzpatrick said that's because the Lake of the Ozarks is a family-friendly destination.
The last time USA Today took a poll among its readers, in 2015, it named the Lake of the Ozarks as the “best recreational lake” in the nation.
“When the families come here from so far, they’re driving, they’re flying, they’re driving 12-14 hours,” Fitzpatrick said. “They can come and stay, and the families can enjoy. And it’s very adorable, and easy to get to.”
The 2018 Can-Am Games will feature nearly 50 different Olympic-style sporting events, including CrossFit, golf, swimming and track and field, among others.
The events started on Monday and go until July 1. All the events are open to the public. Attendance and parking is free.
Competitions will take place in Camdenton, Lake Ozark, Linn Creek, Osage Beach and Sunrise Beach in the Lake of the Ozarks. Also, some events will take place in Columbia and Lebanon.
More information can be found on the event's website.