CALGARY -- Touchdown Manitoba officially opened at 12:00 PM MT on Friday Nov. 22, otherwise known as the kickoff to the biggest party for Blue Bombers’ fans in years.

Eight years, to be exact, since the last time the team was playing for the Grey Cup.

“Oh this is fantastic,” said one fan adorned in blue and gold. “I mean it’s almost like the game is an afterthought with all of the festivities that are happening.”

That sentiment is true for the majority of fans attending Grey Cup week: seven fan bases that don’t have a team to root for. The fact that Winnipeg will be playing for a championship on Sunday is just an added bonus.

“It’s fun,” said Chris Murash, who’s attending her 12th Grey Cup. “You get a whole bunch of people together who can share the same goals and dreams. We have friends from all across Canada, we meet once a year at Grey Cup.”

It’s Grey Cup number 23 for Svein Bjornsson, who’s only 22-years-old.

“My first one I was in a baby carrier and Bomber flag,” he said. “Nine weeks old, in Edmonton I believe.”

The tradition has become a reason for people to come together. Martin Schall and Jay Diamond are lifelong friends, who’ve been to seven Grey Cups before this one, despite the fact that Jay lives in Silicon Valley, California.

“We wanted a unique event that can take us all over Canada,” said Schall. “The game is almost irrelevant for us at this point—“

“Well it’s not irrelevant,” Diamond interrupts.

“It’s not irrelevant, this year it’s very relevant,” continued Schall. “We have to be on our best behaviour for Sunday, because this is the best chance the Bombers have.”

The best chance to end what’s been a nauseating winless streak for fans. Twenty-eight years and counting, with five defeats in the big game adding to the misery along the way.

“Oh anxious for sure man,” said a fan dressed as a blue and gold Viking warrior. “I’ve been to a few Grey Cups, there’s been a lot of disappointments.”

“Twenty-three years is 23 years too long,” added Bjornsson.