It’s Blue Bombers game day and Mike Brisson has been up since well before the crack of dawn.
And not long after he wiped the sleep from his eyes Brisson was working on setting up his elaborate tailgate area right across from IG Field, hours before the Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders were to meet in the 17th annual Banjo Bowl. Hosting a pre-game tailgate party, after all, takes hours upon of detailed planning.
“I’ve been here since 6 a.m.,” began Brisson. “We’ve got two smokers going and I do all the cooking and then we just have a big party before about 40 of us go in to support the club.”
A quick sweep of the area near IG Field three hours before kickoff on Saturday and there are sites like Brisson’s all around the stadium footprint. Dozens of fans – both sporting Blue Bombers colours and the occasional clusters of green of faithful for the Roughriders – line the boulevard in front of the Winnipeg Soccer Federation Soccer Complex in a row of tents, some of them tossing around a football between bites of burgers. Blue Bombers fans are also spotted near giant ‘W’ flags and underneath the smoke from barbecues bear the IG Athletic Centre just east of the stadium.
The tailgating trend should continue right into the fall, as after the Banjo Bowl the Bombers still have three more weekend home games – Friday, Oct. 8th vs. the Edmonton Elks; Saturday, Oct. 23rd vs. the B.C. Lions and Saturday, Nov. 6th vs. the Montreal Alouettes. There’s also the possibility of a home playoff date in late November-early December. No matter the weather, the tailgating diehards are there.
“I started planning our party two months ago,” Brisson said. “I’ve got a big, 10-pound prime rib here. I’ve got beef ribs and on top of them I’ve got some baby backs. In a little while some friends are bringing beans. We’ll have coleslaw and, of course, some drinks.”
The Banjo Bowl is the biggest of Brisson’s tailgating weekends, as he also hosts some clients and guests for the company he works for, Superior Propane. But he’s here for other Bomber home games, too.
“They can’t always be this big,” he said with a grin. “There’s a lot of stress that goes into this. A lot of stress. We eat at 1 p.m. and then head in about an hour before kickoff. It’s a lot to get people fed and get them happy before we go in to watch the Bombers. But we’ve been doing this since this stadium opened. It’s part of our little routine and part of our tradition. It’s why we live for game day so much.”
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