- Greg Johnston
Raymond Field - Acadia Axemen
Photos by Greg Johnston, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
550 Main St.
Wolfville, NS B4P 2R6
Acadia Axemen football website
Year Opened: 1966
Home of the Axemen
Nestled between various vineyards and the Bay of Fundy in the scenic Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia is the town of Wolfville and Acadia University. With an enrollment of around 3,500 students, Acadia is one of the smaller schools in USports football. However, the football program fields a competitive team almost every season. Their greatest success came in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the Axeman made four Vanier Cup appearances, winning two of them in 1979 & 1981. Since 2005, Acadia has reached the semi-finals five times, losing each match.
Food & Beverage 2
There’s not much to get excited about with the food options at Raymond Field. Two concession stands are located underneath the main grandstand. Depending on what you’re craving, you may have to visit both stations. Follow your nose to the grill behind section 4, as scents of hamburgers and hotdogs draw you to the makeshift concession stand. The permanent concession stand has more traditional snack foods including popcorn, candy, and an array of soft drinks, juices, hot chocolate, and coffee, all under $4. For a frosty beverage, a beer garden is set up just beside the grandstand. The garden consists of picnic tables and standing room areas with full view of the game. Beer options are limited to cans of Budweiser, Bud Light, Alexander Keith’s and Okanagan Cider for around $6.
Instead of settling for some of these traditional choices, enjoy the farmer’s market next door prior to kickoff. The market offers a variety of food options including breakfast feasts, ethnic favorites, and desserts. In addition, a number of eating and drinking establishments are located within walking distance of the stadium.
Raymond Field would be a great place to film a football movie based in the 1960s. The main grandstand is an “old-timer” concrete structure and wood bench seating, with an angled heavy-looking canopy cantilevering over all ten seating rows. The grandstand is only on the west side of the field and is not centered to the field markers. Despite the running track surrounding the field of play, you will be close to the action sitting in the grandstand, as row one is within arms reach of the first runners lane. Additional aluminum stands are located at the corners of the field, but feel isolated from the main atmosphere. No matter where you sit, you’ll have a view of the lone scoreboard. Try not to miss any of the action, no video boards can replay any great play call.
Entertainment during lulls in game action is minimal, but still catches your eye. The public announcer has a great voice for the job, with exuberant excitement after a big play; the fight song also blares over the loudspeakers after an Acadia score. Cheerleaders and the mascot, named “Axeman,” attempt to increase the crowd’s energy throughout the game by chanting and throwing out t-shirts.
One of the best aspects of an Acadia University game day experience is exploring the town of Wolfville. Raymond Field is located on Main Street on the west side of town with plenty of restaurants and attractions nearby. The stadium is directly across the street from the picturesque campus, and literally next door to a charming downtown. Be sure to set time to stroll down Main Street and visit the many local shops and restaurants. The downtown is only a few blocks long and is easily walkable. Walk down to the visitor center at the east end of town and swing back along the “Rails to Trails” nature trail to learn about the history of the railroad in the valley. Enroute you’ll see an interesting example of adaptive reuse historic preservation, as the old train station now functions as the town’s library. Be sure to check out the delightful farmers market and the many historic homes throughout the town. Couple your stay with “Devour!” a food film festival in late October celebrating cinema, food, and wine culture.
Wolfville is the place to be if you are a wine aficionado. Vineyards line Highway 1 offering wine tasting and tours. A wine bus may be the most effective (and safe) way to experience as many wines as you can handle.
Annapolis Valley is also known for its apple and pumpkin farms. If attending a game in late October, be sure to check out the Pumpkin Regatta. This annual event is located in Windsor, a half-hour away, and features a parade of gigantic pumpkins decorated and hollowed out to be raced across Lake Pesaquid.
Acadia may have small enrollment and is located far from a major city, but the hundreds of local fans have taken an obvious sense of pride in Acadia football. Section 4 is reserved seating for season ticket holders, which is nearly full for every game. Here, you’ll find the most knowledgeable and boisterous Axeman supporters who can be clearly heard all over the field making up chants or hollering at the referees. Crowd sizes range from 1,200 – 2,000 per regular season game. Homecoming can expect a crowd between 2,000-2,500.
Admire a gorgeous drive through the Annapolis Valley if you’re arriving from Halifax. Make the hour-and-a-half trip in mid October, when the leaves are vibrant in colour with reds, greens, and oranges covering the landscape like a painting. Be sure to keep eyes on the road and depart Highway 101 at the Grand Pre exit. Follow Highway 1 past a number of wineries and B&B’s and you will roll right into downtown. Just past the few blocks of local businesses you’ll clearly see Raymond Field’s goal post and grandstands on your right. Turn into the large free parking lot just past the grandstand. Transit is an option if you’re arriving from as far as Greenwood. Kings Transit provides a bus every two hours for $3.50.
Navigating your way to your seats from the parking lot should be straight forward. Sidewalks lead uphill to the main entrance of the multi-functional Acadia Athletic Complex. This facility consists of the school’s fitness centre and hosts a number of Acadia sporting events, including basketball, hockey, track & field, and swimming. The box office greets you as you enter through the building’s atrium.
After receiving your ticket, follow the crowd to the only patron entrance into Raymond Field. On the way you’ll pass a campus store and the Acadia Sports Hall-of-Fame before security checks bags and tickets are scanned. You likely have a general admission (GA) ticket, unless you’re a season ticket holder. A GA ticket allows you a seat in sections 1-3 in the permanent grandstand (close to concessions and the washrooms) or any of the temporary metal bleachers set up near the end zone. A barrier free ramp leads to the grandstand’s accessible seating row located on the first row behind the visitor’s bench. Early-bird fans gravitated to the last row of the grandstand which provides the best overview of the field, back support from the canopy structure, and wind protection.
Return on Investment 3
Acadia keeps their fan experience very simple. You won’t find pyrotechnics or a live marching band here. But you will experience a comfortable place to watch a college football game. Single game tickets can be purchased at Raymond Field’s box office, by phone, or on-line. Season tickets are available for $35. Acadia football provides a good experience for an afternoon family outing. Since young, future Acadia football stars can sometimes lose focus on the game, a bouncing castle is set up at the corner of the endzone to expel excess energy while you continue to enjoy the action.
An extra point for grilling their hot dogs and hamburgers on site. The smell of barbecued meat draws you in for a tasty bite!
An extra point for Acadia Hall-of-Fame open to all ticket holders. The old photographs and trophies tell a rich history of Axeman Sports.
Spending a full day or weekend in Wolfville is well worth your time during late summer or early fall. A wide range of sights, sounds, and activities fulfill all the senses for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Implementing a football game at Raymond Field to your agenda will satisfy any sports fan knowing how consistently competitive the team is. Overall, the fan experience is simple, welcoming, enjoyable, and not at all overwhelming…just like the town of Wolfville.