Grey Cup Northern TourWhen the trophy is finally hoisted by the winning team on Sunday, November 29 at the 103rd Grey Cup Championship, it will mark the end of the cup’s whirlwind journey through Manitoba. In an effort to promote the Grey Cup Festival – the range of activities and entertainment that go along with the big game – Travel Manitoba teamed up with the Winnipeg Free Press, VIA Rail and several industry operators to award a trip to Churchill.

Contest winner, Marge Avent and her husband Ted joined the Grey Cup, its handler Dennis Dowell, Winnipeg Blue Bomber alumni Doug Brown and Brett MacNeil, Winnipeg Free Press writer Jeff Hamilton, and Michel LaRivière from Travel Manitoba on a tour of 11 cities, town, and communities along the VIA Rail route from Winnipeg to  Churchill and back again.

“We were excited and thankful to be chosen to join the northern trip to Churchill to see the polar bears,” said Marge Avent, who along with her husband Ted, is an avid Blue Bomber fan.

"This has been on my bucket list for a long time but to be able do it with the Grey Cup? Wow," Ted said in one of the stories published in the Winnipeg Free Press. The Avents joined the Grey Cup on a helicopter ride to a polar bear den in the northern wilderness after getting to see the polar bears up close.

The Cup’s northern tour not only created publicity surrounding the Grey Cup and its festivities, it also included more Manitobans into the Grey Cup celebration.

“Hosting the Grey Cup is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Jason Smith, President of the 103rd Grey Cup Festival in a release. “Although Winnipeg will be hosting the Grey Cup Championship Game on November 29, we want the whole province to participate in the Grey Cup excitement. We are connecting with thousands of rural and northern Manitobans to make sure they can also enjoy the Grey Cup spirit.”

Fans were invited to come see the Grey Cup and meet the Blue Bomber alumni at community-hosted events in each location, including The Pas, Flin Flon, Snow Lake and Thompson. In addition to the photo opportunities, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities provided sporting equipment, new uniforms, and supported the costs of coaching staff to local sporting groups.

A big thank you to tourism industry partners VIA Rail, Tundra Inn, Victoria Inn Flin Flon, Lakeview Inn & Suites Thompson, Kikiwak Inn, Lazy Bear Lodge, The Seaport Hotel, Gypsy's Bakery and Restaurant, Churchill Northern Studies Centre, and Greyhound for providing accommodation, meals and transportation along with Frontiers North Adventures for providing the Tundra Buggy tour and Hudson Bay Helicopter for the aerial tour. Also, thank you to the Winnipeg Free Press, Grey Cup Festival Committee and Canadian Tire Jumpstart.

Read about the Grey Cup's northern tour:

For more information on the Grey Cup Festival, visit www.103GreyCupFestival.ca.