CAB reflects on first Winterfest

Katherine Vasile and Ysabela Golden

From Feb. 5 to Valentine’s Day, Grand Valley State University’s Campus Activities Board hosted their first ever Winterfest on the Allendale campus. Inspired by the “Winter Carnival” that Grand Valley last hosted in the 1980’s, the festival was a way for CAB to bring students together on campus despite the lack of the traditional President’s Ball.

GVL/Katherine Vasile

“Originally I was brought in for the President’s Ball, which normally we would have done on the fifth,” said Sydney Brzezinski, the dance’s Co-Director. “I still wanted to do my job, and we all still wanted to offer students something in these times of cold and COVID, a chance to get out and about on campus.”

GVL/Katherine Vasile

“At first we really wanted to make the President’s Ball happen, but I was so happy with what we ended up being able to create,” Brzezinski said. “COVID has restricted us, but it’s also given us the flexibility to go beyond the one thing that we were hired to do: we have the freedom to create new events.”

GVL/Katherine Vasile

“From the first week, I really enjoyed the ice carvers,” Brzezinski said. “It was something we’ve never had at an event before, which was really cool— and they were a local group from Grand Rapids, the Ice Brigade, which was awesome.”

GVL/Katherine Vasile

“The huskies were a huge hit the second week,” Brzezinski said. “We had them for Sibs and Kids in 2015, and we were happy to have them back. A lot of our directors saw how successful their outing was at Winterfest, and we are definitely looking at having them return again in the future.”

GVL/Katherine Vasile

“We’ve done succulents in the past, and they’ve always been a hit,” Brzezinski said. “We had 150 for each day, but we still ended up running out before Sunday that second weekend. We had two and a half different ways you could go about it: you could check in, get yours, and leave, you could come in to say hi, or you could decorate it there. We had Happy Feet playing in the background, thanks to our Director of Cinema Hannah Schafer.”

GVL/Katherine Vasile

“The food trucks were great, especially the ice cream,” Brzezinski said. “We actually ran out of ice cream bowls at one point and had to restock, it was so delicious. I loved that he had so many different options. Gluten free, vegan, dairy-free, there was a little bit of something for everybody.”

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“That goes for the whole event, really,” Brzezinski said. “If you couldn’t be on campus, we had social media events. If you just wanted to drop by, we had stuff to pick up. If you wanted to socialize without going inside, we had the dogs and the ice carvers.”

GVL/Katherine Vasile

“I think events like this as a whole are really important, because they’re events for students by students,” Brzezinski said. “You get to offer your peers something that you think you would be interested in. It encourages community, whether that’s on campus community like student organizations, or off-campus community, like the Grand Rapids Ice Brigade. In a time that’s been pushing people away from each other, it’s more important to offer that than ever.”

GVL/Katherine Vasile