After three solid days of entertainment it was time for the Grey Cup Festival to come to an end, well for us anyway. Today all eyes turn to the Stadium at TD Place where First Downs and Touchdowns will be the topic of discussion as the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders face off for the right to be called Grey Cup Champions for 2017.
It was a long day at the Grey Cup Festival starting with a highly anticipated Calgary Grey Cup Committee pancake breakfast, now these weren’t just any pancakes these were like a pancake sandwich. It was a perfect start to a great day at Lansdowne Park celebrating a game that, up until this year, I was just a passive follower of.
Following breakfast it was time to hit TD Place Arena for the 2017 Cheer Extravaganza which featured demonstrations from all 9 Cheer Teams from across the CFL. If you’ve never taken in a cheer demonstration it’s something to behold. When talking football often the conversation is about the athletes on the field but rarely do they talk about the incredible athletes that cheer on the teams on the field.
The men and women who make up the cheer teams lift and throw each other in the air and move around the field in perfect precision without ever missing a beat and seemingly never running out of breath. I can’t do one minute of the moves that they do in a routine without gasping for air and sweating like it’s 100 degrees, ok granted they’re in much better shape than I but it’s still impressive. Beyond the physical aspect that’s involved the trust that these athletes have with their team mates is incredible. Allowing themselves to fall backwards from 5 or 10 feet in the air with the faith that someone will be there to catch them when they land. The level of mental focus required at all times to ensure the safety of the other teammates is incredible, the slightest distraction or miscalculation could end in serious injury. It was something to behold.
Following the Cheer Extravaganza our team split up with some heading down to the East Coast Kitchen Party and others checking out the various parties around the festival grounds. Keenan and I took took in the Nissan Titan Street Party and the family zone which had activities for the younger kids from a Curling Zone to a percussion area set up by a RedBlacks Percussion team. The area also had a military demonstration featuring a Light Armoured Personnel Carrier which was a hit with young and old.
After a short break we regrouped with the rest of the team to recharge and warm up before heading back to TD Place for the main event of the night. The Classic Rock Concert Series featuring iconic Canadian Bands Trooper and April Wine and “Ooowhatanight” it was.
Trooper kicked off the night with their classic hit “Here for a Good Time (Not a Long Time)” and what followed over the next 90 minutes was nothing short of amazing. Decades of hits and decades of performing live all culmonated into one of the best Tooper shows I’ve ever seen.
Trooper has long been one of my personal favourite Canadian bands, I owe my love for live music to them as they were the first Canadian rock band I had the pleasure of seeing live. In the 20 years since then I’ve caught Trooper a few more times but last night’s performance was easily the best show I’ve ever seen them put on. They effortlessly took a packed TD Place through hit after hit including “One of the Money (Two for the Show)”, “General Hand Grenade” , “Boys in the Bright White Spots Car”, “Santa Maria”, “Pretty Lady” and even some new music before blowing the roof off with a sing along involving the entire crowd at TD Place for their smash hit “Raise A Little Hell”.
After a short break it was April Wine’s turn to hit the stage. Although equally successful I can’t say I’m as big of a fan of April Wine as I am of Trooper and last night’s performance wasn’t going to do much to change that.
They took us through most of their big hits including “Tonite is A Wonderful Time to Fall in Love”, “Roller”, “Just Between You and Me”, “I Like To Rock”, “Sign of the Gypsy Queen”, “Enough is Enough” before capping off the night with “Ooowhatanite”
The songs were played effortlessly but the performance wasn’t anywhere close to the level of Trooper’s. I just got the impression that April Wine was going through the motions as they didn’t have near the energy of Trooper.
Either way both bands represent a golden time for Canadian music and it’s amazing to see both still going strong.
So here we are…Grey Cup Sunday. I turn over the coverage to our photo team who is accredited to cover this evening’s festivities. We’ll be covering today’s pregame festivities including the tailgate parties featuring performances by Doug Flutie and his band, The Lionyls, the Monowhales and more. Plus we’ll have full coverage of the halftime show featuring Canada’s Country Queen Shania Twain.
For those of you planning on heading down to Lansdowne Park to take in the game keep in mind that taking your car is probably a very bad idea, it’s actually frowned upon.
Public transit will be free all day Sunday for game ticket holders riding on OC Transpo and STO buses. Ticket holders will be asked to show their ticket to the driver upon boarding the bus.
Grey Cup festival ticket holders can ride OC Transpo and STO buses for free three hours before and three hours after the event, provided they show their ticket to the driver.
All 450-series OC Transpo buses will be in service from 2 p.m. to midnight — free for game ticket holders. Game ticket holders can also ride free shuttles heading to TD Place and departing from Canada Post on Riverside Drive, Vincent Massey Park and City Hall, between noon and midnight. If you want more information visit www.greycupfestival105.ca/lansdowne-travel-plan
This weekend has turned me into a football fan and I’m excited for the season ahead and if all goes well you’ll catch the Sound Check team back in action at the 106th Grey Cup Festival in Edmonton in 2018. Best of luck to both the Argos and the Stampeders in today’s game, I’ll be watching from the warmth of my home and cheering for the Stampeders…it took me a while to decide but Calgary is one of my favourite cities in Canada, aside from Ottawa, and the Calgary Stampede is one of the most incredible events so if the RedBlacks are out then my vote has to go with Calgary.
We’ll have a full wrap up and