Mounties escort the Grey Cup through the crowd in Minnedosa Wednesday. The CFL’s Grey Cup 100 Tour is making its way across Canada, stopping in 100 communities before the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto on Nov. 25. (JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN)
Fans gather outside of the Grey Cup 100 Train in Minnedosa on Wednesday while students entertain the crowd. (JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN)
Blue Bomber fan Allison Zimmer poses for a photo at the Grey Cup 100 Tour on Wednesday in Minnedosa. (JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN)
Carol and George Stuart proudly pose with their Rider green at the Grey Cup 100 Tour in Minnedosa. (JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN)
MINNEDOSA — Football fans of all stripes came out to celebrate the Canadian Football League and catch a glimpse of the Grey Cup on Wednesday.
The championship trophy rolled into Minnedosa at 11 a.m., as part of its coast-to-coast train tour to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
"Six weeks of planning has gone very well, and the town has got more excited as the weeks have gone on," said Garry MacDowall, a Minnedosa town councillor and chair of the local committee. "We’re so happy the surrounding communities and towns have decided to take part in the day too."
The Grey Cup is travelling on a special Via Rail train, making 100 stops before the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto on Nov. 25. The cross-Canada tour began in Vancouver Sept. 9.
Carley Smith, communications officer with the CFL, said it has been an "incredible" journey thus far.
"What gets me every time is the emotion that people experience as they’re going through," Smith said. "The emotion that you see on their faces when they see the Grey Cup is truly inspiring and amazing."
Smith said the Grey Cup is much more than just a game.
"It means camaraderie, it means friendship, it means Canadian history," she said. "It means so much more, so to see that come out at stops like this is incredible."
The train includes several cars filled with team memorabilia from the past century, 18 Grey Cup rings and a replica of a CFL team’s locker room with stalls belonging to various players from around the league.
An estimated 1,400 fans came out to Minnedosa between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to snap a photo with the Grey Cup, check out the museum and compete in contests.
"Even though it’s not sunny and warm, it’s football weather today," MacDowall said. "So that doesn’t stop anybody."
Allison Zimmer of Inglis is a self-proclaimed "die-hard Bomber fan."
"I have been a fan since I was four years old," Zimmer said.
"It all started when Buzz and Boomer actually pulled me out of the stands and let me down on the football field with them, and I’ve been hooked ever since."
Zimmer has Bomber season tickets and makes the 3.5-hour trip to Winnipeg for every game.
"We support them through thick and thin, no matter what," she said. "There’s nowhere else I’d rather be and no one else I’d rather cheer for."
Carol and George Stuart are also die-hard fans, but of the green variety.
"I was born and raised in Saskatchewan … and we’re huge Rider fans," Carol said.
The couple now lives in Clear Lake, but continues to stay true to their roots.
"I read the Rider blog and I saw lots of great pictures of the Grey Cup train, so we were only a half hour away and said, ‘We’ve got to come,’" Carol said. "We had our picture done with the Grey Cup, and it’ll go on the Christmas card."
The Grey Cup 100 Tour stops in Portage la Prairie today, and Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday.
It skips to Nova Scotia on Oct. 12 and makes its way back west to end the tour in Toronto for the start of the Grey Cup Festival.
Visit www.greycuptour.ca to track the Cup.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 4, 2012