Grey Cup: our national, one of a kind, party

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Grey Cup week, there’s nothing else like in Canada. 

Heck, there’s nothing else like it in the world of sports. No where else do fans from across the country, dawning colours of their favourite teams to create a mosaic of fandom everywhere they go take over a city for five days. The game itself is basically secondary. 

In Saskatchewan, we might not get the full effect. When the big game is here, we tend to see a lot of green and perhaps not so much of everyone else. This province is so CFL crazy that the locals basically dominate the scene when the show makes it’s way here. 

If you haven’t travelled to a Grey Cup yet, then it should definitely be on your bucket list. I’ve been to three of them away from home now, and each time you’re left with nothing but good memories and usually some new friends along way. 

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This year, Edmonton played host to the 106th edition of the Grey Cup. Edmonton is one of the hubs of the CFL, so there’s no doubt that the week was going to be a good one. 

As usual, everywhere you go, be it bars, restaurants, team parties, fan events or even just walking down the street. You see people dressed in colours from across the league, walking together in unison. It was impossible to walk down Jasper Avenue and surrounding areas without seeing some kind of CFL merchandise. Even teams like Toronto and Montreal, who currently don’t have the most robust fanbases were represented. 

The heart of Grey Cup week remains the team parties. Spirit of Edmonton is basically always the headliner, especially in Edmonton, but Riderville, the Down East Kitchen Party and Stamps House remain as popular as ever. Add in the B.C Lions Den, R-Nation party and a Ti-Cats pub crawl, there’s always something different to check out every night. And yes, the party goes on every night. 

The team parties are what they are at this point. Plenty of drinks, some games, usually a few bands and all in all a good time. I would like to see these parties expand their drink list as it’s a lot of the same stuff at every party and the same stuff you find everywhere else. The usual favourites. That’s just me, though.

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As a craft beer nut, I enjoy exploring everywhere I go. While I would have liked to have had more time to get off the beaten trail, but other priorities and people generally wanting to hit the team parties got in the way. I did manage to find some time to head to Beer Revolution in the Oliver Square area of Edmonton. If you love beer, then this place is for you. The beer menus around the bar tell you when a beer was tapped and roughly how much is left. I thought that was really good. There’s a couple of locations in Calgary too, if you happen to be out that way. 

At the end of Grey Cup week, there’s always that weird feeling that it’s over. Like most football seasons, it’s just long enough to make it worth it, but short enough to leaving you wanting more. There’s nothing else like it. 

See you next year, Calgary. I can’t wait. 

Joel Gasson