Winnipeg Jets supporters rejoice as Fan Fest returns

Fans gathered at the Bell MTS Iceplex on Saturday to join the Winnipeg Jets as they officially kicked off hockey season with the return of the Winnipeg Jets Fan Fest.

Returning for the first time since 2019, after a hiatus due to the pandemic, Fan Fest offered hockey lovers a sneak peek at top players with the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose as they prepare for the new season.

“It’s building excitement but it’s also bringing our fans together at the same time to hype up our season,” said Kory Harnum, manager of community relations with the Winnipeg Jets.

“It’s an opportunity to get everyone into one rink,” said Harnum.

Fans were able to watch on-ice training camp sessions from the rinkside, and see interviews with their favourite players at the event.

Fan Fest also added a new experience to the event this year called NHL Street, bringing youngsters a chance to participate in a full street hockey setup.

“There’s a little bit of everything for everyone,” Harnum said. “It’s been a great day.”

Fan Fest is also an opportunity to see new players on the ice for the first time after the changes made during the off-season, Harnum said.

Tickets to the event were free, and 3,000 to 4,000 were booked before Saturday, said Harnum.

Christina Litz, chief brand and commercial officer for Jets owner True North Sports and Entertainment, says free tickets to the event remove barriers and allow all fans to enjoy the event.

“I think we’re all struggling right now with rising costs,” she told Radio-Canada in a Saturday interview.

“The privilege of coming to a Jets game is hard to afford, so we’re trying to make it easier where we can.”

Thousands of free tickets were claimed ahead of Saturday’s event, said Kory Harnum, the community relations manager with the Winnipeg Jets. (Radio-Canada)

The Jets also unveiled their new Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre retail jersey at the event. The jerseys will be made available for sale to fans to help support WASAC — a non-profit that works to make sports more accessible and inclusive for Indigenous children and youth. 

Eden Lapp, 10, was in the stands for Fan Fest on Saturday. He said he likes to see the hockey players and watch their training drills.

“It’s really fun. I love watching the Jets,” he said.

Rena Lito also attended the event with his child. He said they came for autographs and the bouncy castle, but mainly to see the Jets in action.

“I’m excited for the new season coming up, and I hope we go all the way this time,” said Lito.

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