Editorial: Festival needs a pep talk

NW Staff

Thursday, Feb. 14 marks the official start of WinterFest, NMU’s annual winter celebration. Over the next 10 days, Northern students will be able to attend concerts, Wildcat sporting events and an airband competition. There will be an NMU ski and snowboard day at Marquette Mountain, an open skate at the Berry Events Center and a campus-wide scavenger hunt. In addition, Marquette will play host to the U.P. 200 sled dog races this weekend.

Despite the full slate of activities, however, NMU students never really get excited about the WinterFest events. Instead, they seem to have one common thought: “This isn’t as cool as Winter Carnival.”

The Carnival is Michigan Tech’s annual winter celebration, complete with prominent guest performers, big time hockey games and gargantuan snow sculptures.

The fact of the matter is that WinterFest has never been able to compete with Winter Carnival.

Though NMU’s activities span more than a week and closely resemble those at MTU, Tech’s festivities reach a fever pitch during a four-day stretch where students are excused from classes and the sidewalks fill with people in a celebration of snow, ice and cold.

Aside from the length, the main difference in the two celebrations lays in the organization. At Tech, a local branch of the nationally-recognized Blue Key Honor Society sets up the event. The group begins planning and actively collecting donations in late summer and the Carnival is the honor society’s biggest event.

At Northern, the Special Events Committee (SEC) is in charge of WinterFest, just one of three events-including homecoming and a leadership recognition banquet-that the SEC plans over the course of the year.

This winter, the Blue Key Honor Society received $10,000 from the MTU student activity fee and boosted that total with nearly year-round fundraising. The SEC was given $5,000 to work with this year and no extra fundraising was done.

A successful WinterFest-able to involve the university as well as the community-would have to occur over a shorter period of time and should require a higher level of dedication and organization.

With just a little time and a bit of effort, WinterFest would compete with Winter Carnival. We have the snow, the ski hill, the hockey team and even a larger student body. All that’s left is for NMU to make a premier winter festival a priority.