Manitoba Grey Cup social brings out camaraderie, costumes for Bombers fans in Regina

Although it’s Sunday’s CFL final that brought them to Regina, many Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans say the Grey Cup weekend is also an opportunity to connect with each other — through camaraderie, costumes and an old-fashioned Manitoba social.

Hundreds of people were at Touchdown Manitoba, the social hosted as part of Grey Cup weekend events, on Friday afternoon. In a sea of blue and gold jerseys, many fans got creative with their attire.

John Couture, who has been to 49 Grey Cups, said over the years, people have given him hundreds of pins. He wears a selection of them on his Bombers jersey at every Grey Cup game. 

“The guys would have to carry me if I put them all on. A little bit too much weight for me to handle,” said the fan from Winnipeg’s Transcona neighbourhood.

Couture’s favourite pin is one that he had made this year, which reads “In O’Shea we trust,” and features a photo of Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea in the middle.

On Thursday night, O’Shea was named CFL’s coach of the year for the second consecutive year. 

“I consider him the coach of the century,” said Couture, who also says while the games are important to him, it’s the connection he has with other football fans that means much more these days.

Ramona Tkachuk was among the many other fans at Friday’s Touchdown social with an original Bomber outfit — a dress made of Bombers flags, created by Thompson, Man., artist Gaylene Lindquist Weselowski. 

Tkachuk shows off the dress artist Gaylene Lindquist Weselowski created from Winnipeg Blue Bombers flags. (Joanne Roberts/CBC)

“I went to a Labour Day classic in Regina, saw a woman wearing a dress that had Rider logos all over it, and I went, ‘Oh my gosh!'” said Tkachuk.

“I called [Lindquist Weselowski] when I got home because she’s amazing, and I said … ‘I need a Blue Bomber dress.'”

Tkachuk said said no matter what’s happened to her during the week, the hours she gets to spend with other fans at games make her feel better.

Part of the reason she said enjoys the events is because of the relationship fans have with the Bombers.

“The love is mutual,” she said.

“[Fans are] here because we love the league. We love the game. We love everything that goes with it. That’s why we’re all here this weekend.”

Many of the fans at Friday’s socials predicted the Bombers, who are defending back-to-back Grey Cup wins, will bring the cup back to Winnipeg again after Sunday’s game, though some felt it might hinge on quarterback Zach Collaros. 

Collaros, who rolled his right ankle during last Sunday’s CFL West Division final, practised on Friday for the first time since the Bombers landed in Regina.

Collaros has said he will play in Sunday’s game.

But Couture said while he’s certain Collaros will be on the field Sunday, he doesn’t think a win rests entirely on the quarterback’s shoulders.

“I have total confidence in the backup quarterbacks. They are very good,” Couture said.

The Bombers face off against the Toronto Argonauts in Sunday’s Grey Cup game at Mosaic Stadium. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. CT.