The Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosted the first tailgate party since 2019 ahead of Saturday’s Banjo Bowl at IG Field.
Michael Ludwig, also known as Bomber Reaper, said that everyone who comes for the game comes for the tailgate.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to get to interact with everybody this year,” Ludwig said of the tailgate. “This makes Banjo Bowl, Banjo Bowl.”
Taine Vallance, a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan living in Winnipeg, said he was just as excited to take part in the tailgate after the COVID-19 pandemic banned large gatherings for so long.
“It’s been so rough, so hard, it’s just good to see we’re all slowly getting back to normal and being able to get all back together again,” Vallance said. “I just love seeing all this, it just makes me so happy.”
The Blue Bombers and Roughriders didn’t get to play in the Banjo Bowl last year after the 2020 season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laresa Sayles, a former Winnipegger who now lives in B.C., left her husband at home on their 10th wedding anniversary and boarded a plane with her friend to catch this year’s Banjo Bowl.
“I’m a little embarrassed but it is what it is,” Sayles said. “We’ll celebrate next week.”
Although the Banjo Bowl sold out, fewer fans from Saskatchewan purchased tickets for the game than usual, according to a spokesperson for the Blue Bombers.
Chuck Morrison, who drove in from Saskatchewan on Friday, suspects COVID-19 has something to do with that.
“I can tell by the lack of green in this area compared to 2019 when we were here, there was lots of Rider fans,” Morrison said.
Saturday’s matchup between the two rivals marks the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl, with the Bombers holding a 9-7 overall edge.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.