Hundreds of raucous Saskatchewan Roughrider fans huddled under a festival tent in downtown Regina to help kick off the 101st Grey Cup celebrations Wednesday.

Several former Riders players attended the opening ceremonies at the Mosaic Underground Tent in City Square Plaza, including Regina Dewdney MLA Gene Makowsky.

“I can’t think of a fan base that deserves (the Grey Cup) more than the Rider Nation,” Makowsky said to cheers and applause.

“If things go right on Sunday…I hope to see you all out on the Green Mile celebrating.”

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said the city is proud to be hosting this year’s Grey Cup.

“You couldn’t ask for any better scenario for us – hosting the Grey Cup and being in the finals,” Fougere said.

“We’re going to show them the heart of Rider Nation and the heart of the CFL.”

Roughriders president and CEO Jim Hopson says playing in this year’s Grey Cup against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be a dream come true for the team.

“In 2011, we were mired in a bad season for the Saskatchewan Roughriders – one of few in recent memory,” Hopson said.

“But we had a belief that we could and would play in this game…That dream has been fueled over the last two years by the love and the passion of Rider Nation.”

Lt.-Gov. Vaughn Schofield and CFL commissioner Mark Cohon were among the many other notable people in attendance.

But the star of the show was the fabled Grey Cup itself, which was brought in by horse and carriage before it was whisked through the cheering crowd and onto the stage.

“Last year, everyone was saying…how are you going to top the 100th Grey Cup?” said Cohon.

“I simply said ‘Celebration in Rider Nation.’”

CTV Regina will have continuing coverage of the Grey Cup Festival and Sunday’s game online at