November 14, 2018

A ‘November to Remember’ In Edmonton

In Canada, a ‘November to Remember’ usually involves the Grey Cup.

It’s now November, and from this point forward the focus with the organizers of Grey Cup 106, presented by Shaw, in Edmonton is to excite the city about the plans that are in place to take the event, as has been the case in previous Edmonton editions, where it’s never been before.

“Our big-picture planning has been to get to November and then really begin a push to drive traffic to the festival,” said Edmonton 2018 Grey Cup Festival Executive Director Duanne Vienneau.

“We want to tell people about all the great things they’ll be able to do during the Grey Cup. We want to make sure that everybody knows about everything that’s happening so they can make plans to pick the things they’d like to experience right from the kickoff party on the Wednesday evening through to game day itself.

“There are so many different things, and we want to tell those stories so that everybody locally will want to join the 30,000 visitors from across Canada so and say ‘We have to go see this thing because it’s the biggest thing happening to this city, maybe from a festival perspective, ever.’

The major events are all either sold out or are nearing sellouts said, Vienneau.

“The CFL Awards at the Winspear have completely sold out at 1,700. And both the Friday and Saturday Spirit of Edmonton Breakfasts at The Shaw are both sold out at 2,000 capacity,” he reports.

“The Gala Friday at the Shaw has a capacity of 2,200, and we hit 1,700 a week and a half ago. We’re still trying to sell a couple hundred more, but a dinner for 1,700 is a big deal already.

“The Saturday night concert at The Shaw, which is probably the biggest hit of everything we’ve done and features Kim Mitchell, Loverboy and Trooper, have sold close to our capacity of about 4,000. But a few tickets remain.

“On game day, the indoor tailgate at the Commonwealth Stadium Field House has a capacity of 2,200 and is completely sold out. The outdoor tailgate party in the West parking lot has 3,500 tickets sold and the other tailgate party at Clarke Park, that’s sold 1,000 so far an we just put it on sale.”

Three separate tailgate events will be held at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium with the Trews and Toque at the Boston Pizza Outdoor Party in the parking lot West of Commonwealth and another at Clark Park featuring Platinum Blonde and Guns 4 and the one in the field house starring Lindsay Ell and Aaron Pritchett.

The Cheer Extravaganza that was invented by Edmonton’s Dianne Greenough and has become a staple event for every Grey Cup still has tickets remaining and the CFL Alumni Luncheon where Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca got in a fight at the most recent Vancouver Grey Cup witnessed by a crowd of 200, has sold over 800 tickets but has room for more.

Board of Directors Chairman Brad Sparrow and team president and CEO Len Rhodes laid it all out in great detail in early October and sales have been steady since.

“I think it’s about four times the size as at our last Grey Cup here said Sparrow, who chaired the festival committee in 2010.

“In my estimation, this is the largest line-up of events ever for a Grey Cup. There are more than 50 events of entertainment and acts including some 30-plus acts that I’ve ever seen at a festival let alone a Grey Cup. So, we’re very excited about that. It’s a big deal.”

In 2010, most of the footprint was located at Winston Churchill Square. This year it will stretch for blocks on Jasper Avenue in either direction from The Shaw.

“The entertainment, both at the ticketed events and on the free stage offers a little bit of everything for everybody,” said Vienneau.

But it’s the free stuff spread down Jasper Avenue for both families and party animals, depending on the time of day, that Vienneau and his staff are most excited about delivering.

Seventeen musical acts were announced for the free Coopers Outdoor Stage.

One of the surprise additions announced at the early October press conference was the first Grey Cup eSports Tournament, a 40-competitor, eight-team tournament featuring five-member teams with best-of-three elimination games and a best-of-five final.

“We have a million things,” said Vienneau.

“We have a zip line, a ski activation you can try, a tube slide and a bungee jump … “That’s really going to be what we’re trying to do is to educate everybody in the next few weeks that there will be something for everybody. There’s a family zone for the kids in the day, you can go to the free stage and have a drink at the Boston Pizza Sports Bar beside the outdoor stage and go to one of the team rooms,” he said of Riderville, Touchdown Manitoba and even the Atlantic Schooners in addition to the Spirit of Edmonton, almost always the epicenter of the grand national party.