Geordie MacLeod, Grey Cup Festival Executive Director hams it up on the Jiffy Lube Tube Slide as media had a tour of the Festival Zone at Stampede Park wich is open to the public tomorrow as part of the 107th Grey Cup festivities in Calgary on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
The Grey Cup was paraded down Stephen Avenue mall to the Olympic Plaza to kick off the 107th Grey Cup festivities in Calgary on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.
Inside the ATCO Stratosphere as media had a tour of the Festival Zone at Stampede Park wich is open to the public tomorrow as part of the 107th Grey Cup festivities in Calgary on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
The Stampede Corral being set up for the rodeo as media had a tour of the Festival Zone at Stampede Park wich is open to the public tomorrow as part of the 107th Grey Cup festivities in Calgary on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
It’s been months in the making, but Grey Cup week has finally arrived in Calgary.
Days before the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers square off in Sunday’s CFL championship showdown, players from both squads arrived in Calgary with some typical western weather in the form of a heavy snowfall .
It delayed their flights by hours before the Grey Cup was paraded down Stephen Avenue over the lunch hour. Officials also offered a sneak peek at some of the events planned for the 107th Grey Cup celebrations.
On the Stampede grounds, festival executive director Geordie Macleod led media on a tour of the site of the Grey Cup festival encompassing parking lot space and inside the BMO Centre.
“We started the setup of the Nissan Titan street festival, the outdoor site, on Remembrance Day — so ultimately that build is going to take us more than a week,” said Macleod. “All of the interior sites . . . the build has been a little shorter.
“Everything that we’re doing is done at a pretty big scale, so it does take quite a bit of time in the planning process, then the execution process, too. The core group, the folks that worked on this for 16 to 18 months, is pretty small, somewhere in the vicinity of six to 10 people have been with the project from start to where we are now.”
This is the 71st iteration of the festival — a tradition that launched in 1948 when Calgarians boarded a train to Toronto for the then-36th Grey Cup.
Since then, it has flourished into the events tens of thousands are expected to take in this weekend. The festival opens Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and is open Thursday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“It’s extremely gratifying (to see it all come together),” said Macleod, adding nearly 100 different drawings were done to get the site planned properly. “We’re so excited to see people enjoy the site.”
The Atco Stratosphere
Nestled in the heart of the festival on the Stampede grounds is the Atco Stratosphere — an 18-metre-high inflatable dome offering 360-degree video from the inside and outside. The focal point of the street festival on the grounds, it’s only the second time the dome has been in Canada. The first was at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
The dome will be closed to the public for private events for parts of Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“For me, the centrepiece of the festival has been the Stratosphere,” said Macleod. “Our expectation is that will be a really, really neat piece — something that people probably haven’t seen before.”
A rodeo in the Corral
Realizing the festival needed a true hint of Calgary, organizers planned a nine-man rodeo to take place inside the Corral on Saturday night. This will be the first Grey Cup Festival to have a rodeo, and a nice touch for those lucky enough to get tickets to the now sold-out show. The event will include a performance by country star George Canyon.
The BMO Centre will feature something for fans of every team — whether they made it to the Grey Cup or not. And that’s thanks to Energy Avenue occupying the BMO Centre Halls. The Calgary Stampeders host the Stamps House in Hall B, the Saskatchewan Roughriders host Riderville in Hall E, the prospective Atlantic Schooners team is hosting a Kitchen Party in Hall D, while The Spirit of Edmonton represents the Eskimos in Hall C.
The B.C. Lions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Eastern teams of the Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Redblacks, Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes are represented in the Palomino Room.
For more information on party details, visit greycupfestival.ca/events .
If you like pancakes, you’ll surely want to be on the Stampede grounds for a few free breakfasts this week. Starting Thursday and running through Saturday, free pancake breakfasts will be served between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Live music galore
An outdoor stage is set up to showcase some local talent with free concerts during the festival. The music kicks off Wednesday night with The Dungarees (8 p.m.) and music will run between 9:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Featured are Jocelyn Alice (Thursday, 8 p.m.), The Dudes (Friday, 8 p.m.) and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (Saturday, 8 p.m.).
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019