It was a great day to be in Edmonton this weekend – I’m not really a football fan, but the excitement in the city for Grey Cup weekend was palpable. It helps that where we live is right in the thick of things, but based on the numbers of people on the streets – tourists and residents alike were out in full force taking in one of our biggest events this year.
We started our Saturday at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market (which seemed to be emptier than usual, no doubt because of the festivities downtown), then wandered over to the Cosmopolitan Music Society, which was hosting the 9th Royal Bison Craft & Art Fair.
Inside the Royal Bison
There was some uncertainty earlier this year whether or not Royal Bison would continue, as founder Raymond Biesinger moved to Montreal, but thankfully, three of the artists/vendors saved the fair from demise. It’s such a great event – I love the unique products, but also the variety available.
Fun vinyl accessories by Majesty Inc.
Beautiful jewellery by Saraswati
We picked up a few gifts, then zoomed back home, just in time to catch the Grey Cup parade just outside our building.
There were snowbirds
And smile-inducing floats
And those that clean up after them
Our armed forces
And of course…a sea of green
I knew from attending an Eskimos game against Saskatchewan that Roughriders fans are rabid supporters of their team, but I really didn’t know how much until this weekend. It really was amazing to be a part of, if only for a few days. (You can check out Mack’s post on the parade here, and see the rest of his photos here.)
After ducking inside to warm up (funny how staying stationary in even mildly cold temperatures can be chilly), we wandered over to Huddle Town, centering on Churchill Square, to check out the festivities.
A football game in front of City Hall
It was really amazing to us how many people were outside wandering around, enjoying themselves, not minding the cold. We hear so often that being a winter city prevents more programming of events outdoors – and though I recognize that the weather was actually not too bad, to some extent, the “build it, and they will come” mantra seems to hold true.
The Gridiron Zone, for example, held in the square just south of the Stanley Milner Library, is empty most of the year. One reason provided was that the concrete isn’t sound due to the parkade structure just underneath. Well, everything seemed fine this weekend – as the space hosted sponsor booths, and, what else – a bar.
Inside the Zone
Lines seemed to be the word of the day, however – besides the massive wait for the Zipline (please, please bring it back in the future!), there were lines to get into the Spirit of Edmonton, the Huddle Dome and even the tented sports bar by City Hall!
In spite of the waits, everyone was in such a good mood. We even got a random hug from a woman walking around with a huge “Rider Nation” flag!
Spread the love
There really was something for everyone though, and enough activities to keep crowds busy. The music at the outdoor stage kept things lively, and of course, food is never a bad thing. It was great to see Eva Sweet out so we could warm up with some hot waffles!
Fozzy with Chris Jericho
Eva Sweet (without a truck!)
Though I’m sure people didn’t come out for the free stuff, there was quite a bit of swag to be had, some more random than others (we took the can of baked beans, but we live nearby; who would want to carry it around with them?). My favourites were the Mardi Gras-inspired beads from the organizers of TigerTown and the Grey Cup bandana.
Mack with his swag!
For non-sports fans, Alberta House could have been a bit of a sanctuary, with a good variety of arts and culture programming. We finished off our tour of Huddle Town with a quick demo by Brad Smoliak, who used quick-cook barley from Progressive Foods to make a risotto (which also featured pecorino from The Cheesiry, and wild boar bacon from Hog Wild).
Brad Smoliak at work
The finished product (I’ve made it before, but never with bacon – it tastes so much better with bacon!)
Kudos to the organizers for such a great weekend! Hopefully it leads to even more events downtown in the winter.