Banjo Bowl Weekend

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

One simple, good-natured barb has gone from stoking a rivalry to creating an entire weekend of pumping up a single CFL game.

A few years ago, Winnipeg placekicker Troy Westwood called Saskatchewan Roughriders fans "banjo-picking inbreds" on the eve of the Blue Bombers facing their prairie rivals in the Labour Day Classic in Regina. Out of that came the Banjo Bowl as an answer to the Labour Day Classic on the ensuing Sunday and now, the Bombers have extended that into three days of fun and festivities, the Banjo Bowl Weekend.

"With the success of the Grey Cup and the events that went on, one of the ideas that came to light was to create an entire weekend not dissimilar to the Labour Day Weekend that goes on in Regina but to create a mini-Grey Cup with activities, festivals, parties, things along those lines," Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer announced at the Sun Centre yesterday.

The weekend will feature a Legends Brunch, which will include both Bombers and Roughriders greats, at the Sun Centre. That will be followed by a free Bombers autograph session and live entertainment starting at 1 p.m., Saturday, featuring a number of local bands and finishing with 54-40.

Friday's events have yet to be finalized and the weekend will be capped off with the fourth annual Banjo Bowl on Sunday afternoon.

A cheque for $10,000 will be presented to the United Way of the winning city.

"It's a great idea," Westwood said. "The rivalry is so much fun ... and when you've got a chance to make a positive economic impact and have a lot of fun doing it, you've got to take advantage of it."

Almost 1,000 Roughriders fans have started to come to the Banjo Bowl.

"We'd like to get it to the point where there's the 4,000-6,000 that go the other way for Labour Day," said Bauer, who had insisted that the CFL maintain the back-to-back games against Saskatchewan. "Banjo Bowls have been soldout events and this is the next step in sports entertainment.

"It's a great way to celebrate a rivalry ... It's about event marketing and creating new events to complement the football game and what better way to attract people from Saskatchewan to come out and have a good time, and for Manitobans to show them exactly how it's done?"

Tickets for the individual events will be available at Ticketmaster starting Saturday.


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