Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo has a sterling reputation as a player who emphasizes the three F’s: football, family, and faith. But it appears there is a fourth ‘F’ that the star passer is also extremely passionate about: fairs.
The Queen City Exhibition returns to the grounds outside Mosaic Stadium this weekend, just in time for the Riders to take on the Ottawa Redblacks at home on Saturday. Fajardo is focused on the game, but with a bye week scheduled for the team after the final whistle, he wasn’t coy about his intention to partake in the festivities.
“It’s awesome and for me, it’s part of my CFL tradition,” Fajardo said Friday, referencing his early days with the Toronto Argonauts where the Canadian National Exhibition was right outside his door.
“When I was in Toronto, we had … a huge carnival just right there on the grounds of BMO stadium. You’re walking through the carnival basically to get to the facility, to get to the game, and then after the game you’re able to go and enjoy the carnival.”
That was something Fajardo took full advantage of, even when he was on the visiting side. He recalled with a grin one incident during his 2018 season with the B.C. Lions where his love of carnival grub almost cost him.
“I remember when I was in B.C., we played at Toronto and I almost missed the bus because I sprinted through the carnival to get a corn dog,” Fajardo laughed. “I came back on the bus and I was like the last guy right before they left to the airport.”
Events like the Queen City Ex are a major draw for CFL franchises when they are in town and Fajardo is all for the added atmosphere. He won’t get to partake until afterwards, but providing an added incentive for young families to attend games as part of a full-day outing is always a benefit. Just another way the Canadian league is special in the quarterback’s eyes.
“I think it’s unique and I think it’s fun for everybody involved. You can bring your kids, you can go to the carnival for a little bit, go watch a Rider game and then go back to the carnival,” Fajardo said. “I think it’s fun for people who have been indoors for 18 months, giving them something to do and just kind of interact with people.”
Carnival revelry will have to wait until after the Redblacks are dispatched however and Fajardo isn’t taking the Ottawa team lightly, despite the fact they’ve recorded just two wins in the last 17 games.
He takes their victory over the Elks in Week 1 at face value and knows he has to bring his A-game to combat a tough Redblacks’ defence, lest they ruin his Exhibition experience.
“The last thing I want to do is go out there after a loss,” Fajardo said. “We do have a bye week coming up, so hopefully I can have a celebratory corn dog and cherry Coke as opposed to a sad corn dog, because that doesn’t sound too refreshing.”