Sporting a red and white jersey and an equally flashy cowboy hat, it didn’t take long to figure out where Trent Teetaert’s allegiances lie for the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto.
"I’ve always been a Stamps fan," Teetaert said while watching the game at a friends house yesterday. "Earlier today we were driving around in our gear with the Calgary flag hanging out of the window honking at everyone as we went."
But it hasn’t always been easy for Teetaert to be a Calgary Stampeders fan in Brandon, often taking a healthy dose of ribbing from his Manitoba counterparts.
This year, Teetaert has been served a healthy dose of irony as he finds him cheering for former Winnipeg pivot Kevin Glenn in the biggest game of the season.
"He’s been questionable at times, but this is his moment," Teetaert said prior to kickoff. "I didn’t like him much when he played for the Bombers, same with Romby Bryant, he scares me too, but I wish them both luck now."
While Teetaert, his wife Tayna and brother Darren sported red and white, hanging on every play, the rest of the party’s loyalties were divided. Some friends chose to be Toronto Argonaut fans for the evening, ensuring Teetaert had someone to route against, while the rest of the group were there for what has become a rite of passage for most Canadians on the final Sunday of November.
"It’s all about coming together, enjoying some food and drink and having a good time," said Erin Birkhan, who was hosting her ninth annual Grey Cup party.
Birkhan sported a Green Bay Packers jersey, choosing to stay neutral on this day.
"I love the NFL and I love the CFL, but neither of the teams I cheer for are in this game and I can’t bring myself to wear the colours of either of the teams, so I chose to support my boyfriend Aaron Rodgers tonight," joked Birkhan.
Just minutes after kickoff the crew were already swapping stories about previous parties and past trips to the CFL’s championship game.
"I was at the last Grey Cup, when these two teams played each other in Winnipeg (in 1991)," Birkhan said. "It was me, my dad and a bunch of his friends and they were all cheering for the Stamps so I decided I was going to cheer on the Argos."
And it was that decision, choosing to wear Toronto blue, that led to a brush with Canadian royalty at Winnipeg Stadium.
"I was walking through with all of these Stamps fans and the next thing I know someone just pulled me by the arm and gave me a great big bear hug," she said. "Well, I turn around and it’s John Candy."
The stories continued to fly around the room, among groans from Teetaert every time the Argos scored a touchdown on his beloved Stampeders in the first half.
And the stories weren’t the only thing circling the room, as trays of traditional Grey Cup food made the rounds, providing a festive atmosphere.
"The food is a big part of the whole day," Birkhan said.
Tables were filled with hot wings, stuffed mushrooms, chips and dip and even the odd vegetable. At halftime, pulled pork was featured at this year’s edition of the party taking the place of the traditional chili.
"Everyone brings a little bit and I really enjoy cooking so it’s a lot of fun," Birkhan said.
And the menu wasn’t the only twist at halftime as another interesting dynamic was at this year’s game, which more than 50,000 fans purchased tickets to go see, the addition of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.
"I’m happy Gordon Lightfoot is playing. I like quality music," Birkhan said with a laugh, "although I have a feeling some dads had to take their teenaged daughters to the game this year instead of their buddies just to watch halftime."
Entertainment, food, friends, stories and a little bit of football — the Grey Cup is about as Canadian as pigs in a blanket, which coincidentally enough were also at the party.
"We just enjoy getting together," Birkhan said. "It’s as much about the conversation as it is about the football."