100th Grey Cup festival kicks off Thursday

Nov 15, 2012 | Sports

By Sasha Ramnarine

The half time show on Nov. 25 features Justin Bieber and Gordon Lightfoot. COURTESY 640toronto.com

The 100th Grey Cup festival is already underway and goes beyond hotdogs, pretzels, beer and stats.

“It is the 100th celebration – not the anniversary. We felt that this year, what better chance than ever to really blow this out and take it beyond beer and football,” Dana Fields, manager of communications for, 100th Grey Cup festival told Humber News.

The festival runs from Nov. 15 to Nov. 25 with the tagline being, “an invitation to our nation.”

LISTEN: 100th Grey Cup Festival’s Dana Fields talks about the 46th annual Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square on Nov. 17

“We want to include everyone. It’s going to be one massive party,” said Fields. “Whether you’re a parent and want to get your child involved, a die-hard football fan, a film-lover or food fan, there’s something for everyone.”

The Canadian Football League’s presence enhanced the festival, since the occasion happens once in a lifetime, Jamie Dykstra, director of communications for the CFL told Humber News.

“The Toronto Argonauts host the festival but this year, the CFL was responsible for the Grey Cup loonie, train tour, stamp collection that Canada Post put out,” said Dykstra.

LISTEN: CFL’s Jamie Dykstra discusses the Grey Cup 100th train.

“The Grey Cup’s unique in that it does unify the country every November from east to west,” said Dykstra. “It stands out from other trophies, since it is 100 per cent Canadian.”

The historical aspect of the festival makes the 100th Grey Cup game more of a Canadian cultural symbol.

“The first (CFL) game was won at the University of Toronto in 1909 at Rosedale field, now Rosedale park,” said Dykstra. “We can hopefully have an unprecedented audience to expose our product and our game and our players to those people who may not have participated or engaged with the CFL before.”

LISTEN: CFL’s Jamie Dykstra discusses why the Grey Cup is a true Canadian symbol

“The festival kicks off at 7 p.m. with the launch of a three-day football film festival and shows the film, Brian’s Song,” said Fields. “Three-time Grey Cup champion, Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons will be present to meet his fans also.”

Festival highlights range from free events for ultimate football fans, families and kids, including team parties, galas, player awards, family fun zones at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Yonge-Dundas Square.

Fields said the Nissan Family Zone has a mini football field where kids can throw a football and also features a stage with cheerleader performances and music.

Also, the ice rink at Nathan Phillips Square will be “turfed over,” from Nov. 18 to Nov. 24 and turned into a football field, Fields added.

Fields added fans will be able to purchase tickets to meet their favourite athletes at the Telus Player Awards after party on Nov. 22.

The festival ends with the 100th Grey Cup game set to go down Nov. 25, 6 p.m. at Rogers Centre.

LISTEN: CFL’s Jamie Dykstra looks ahead at Sunday’s historic game.