Coming off the Labour Day weekend, Canadian football fans are preparing themselves for one of the biggest (and most fun) rivalries in the CFL: The Banjo Bowl. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are set to host us, the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the rematch of the Labour Day Classic on our home turf. Playing off trash talk from former Bombers’ kicker Troy Westwood, the game has been played in Winnipeg since 2004 and always draws a huge crowd.

Kick-off at IG Field is Saturday, September 7 at 3 p.m., but the tailgate party starts earlier – and the fun lasts all weekend long, whether you’re making the road trip from Saskatchewan, or your home base is in Winnipeg. 

The Pembina Highway strip that leads to the stadium offers plenty of options for food and drink to keep you going through game day and rumour has it, they will even welcome Rider Nation. To prepare for Sunday’s marathon of football festivities, Saturday is the final day of Le Burger Week Winnipeg. Many spots along Pembina are vying for your vote for best burger in town with their creative creations, including  Brazen Hall Kitchen & Brewery (public choice award winner the past two years in a row!),  Pony Corral (best enjoyed on the spacious riverside patio) and  Nicolino’s (within walking distance of the stadium). Many also offer game-day specials.

Pizza from Nicolino's

Patio party at Pony Corral

Burger + fries from Brazen Hall

Brazen Hall serves up ten in-house brews in flights and pints. The latest selections are listed on its website, which notes an upcoming feature with an appeal to us, Saskatchewan visitors, Longsword Pilsner, brewed with uses malt from Rosthern, SK.

A two-kilometre stroll from the stadium finds Stone Angel Brewing Co., which features more than a dozen beers in its taproom and patio, and serves up its own brews along with two other local breweries,  Devil May Care and Kilter. Stone Angel releases a small batch of experimental beer each Saturday and offers Happy Hour all Sunday, and it often invites food trucks to set up outside on game day.

Two hours prior to kickoff at IG Field, the official tailgate party opens outside Gate 2 with a satellite location of the fan-favourite Rum Hut drink booth, food, DJs, live music on the Blue & Gold Stage, alumni autographs and activities. Sustenance inside the stadium ranges from standard game-day fare to local Filipino flavours and Shawarma Khan, owned by former Blue Bomber Obby Khan. A new 2019 offering pays tribute to Bomber legend Chris Walby and could feed a tour bus full of us Rider fans (or one really hungry one!). The five-pound, $45 Walby Burger: six patties, six chicken tenders, six hot dogs, six bacon strips, special sauce, fries, cheese, pickles, lettuce, onions and tomatoes. 

While in town for the big game, head to downtown Winnipeg’s biggest street festival, ManyFest, which runs Sept. 6-8 and expects to attract more than 50,000 people with its many offerings – carnival rides, Third + Bird Urban Vendor Market, music and entertainment, family zone, 10 and 10 race, Mevafest (the prairies’ most popular electric vehicle festival) and famed Food Truck Wars. The Lake of the Woods Brewing Company Lakeside Lounge will host a Banjo Bowl viewing party Saturday afternoon and the Banjo Bowl after-party from 6 p.m. til midnight with the Boogie Knights Band and Jivetown.

Don't fret Rider fans, you will find plenty of hotels along Pembina Highway, as well as grocery stores to buy fresh watermelon helmets – and for all our banjo-related needs, Long & McQuade Musical Instruments is just down the street!

Rider Nation has also announced the Banjo Bowl is stop number one on the Riderville Tour! Cheerleaders, Gainer and obviously, Rider fans to make this game feel even more like home!