Family Weekend to feature more than 40 events

Haley Otman

Laker families will find a plethora of activities for both the young and the old all over campus this weekend. Family Weekend, an annual fall event at Grand Valley State University, will take place Thursday through Sunday on both the Allendale and Pew campuses, in addition to some off-campus locations.

Although the weekend is not geared toward any specific group over another, LeaAnn Tibbe, assistant director in the Office of Student Life, said one nice aspect of Family Weekend is that freshmen students can show off the campus to their families now that they know it better.

“When the first-year students were dropped off by their parents, they were not familiar with campus and they were nervous and excited, but now this is like home to them,” she said. Danielle Weaver, a GVSU sophomore, said her family plans to visit for Family Weekend as it did last year. “I am looking forward to ArtPrize the most, and just showing them more of the campus, especially the downtown campus,” she said.

Many of the weekend’s events are free, but some require advance registration. The weekend will commence with Family Fun Night in the Fieldhouse Arena, presented by the Women’s Center. It takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday and focuses on children, with hands-on activities including a bounce house, stick-on tattoos, raffles and food. Attendees are asked to RSVP to the free event at by Tuesday.

Friday will feature some never-before-seen Family Weekend events, such as the free Dueling Pianos Lounge in the Kirkhof Center’s Grand River Room from 8 to 11 p.m. “These are the same group of performers who do the dueling pianos lounge at Mojo’s downtown,” Tibbe said. “If people have never been to a dueling pianos event, I think they’ll find it very interesting.”

Saturday, Laker families can enjoy what Tibbe calls the “anchor events” that take place each year. These are the Family Weekend 5K Run/Walk, Pancakes with Presidents, where GVSU President Thomas J. Haas and other presidents on campus will serve up breakfast for $5, and the newly-renamed Kirkhof Carnival.

The Kirkhof Carnival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes activities hosted by GVSU student organizations and “Lunch Under the Big Top,” a new name to go with the carnival theme in which Campus Dining has created a special carnival menu featuring elephant ears and pulled pork. “We have a clown, and we have a yo-yo performer and some other walking entertainment that will be there,” Tibbe said. During the same time on Saturday, the Annis Water Resources Institute at GVSU will take students and their families on a cruise upon the W.G. Jackson Research Vessel.

“The family cruises are a way for students and their parents to see the special setting that GVSU has close to Lake Michigan — the Lake Michigan Center, home of the Annis Water Resources Institute,” said Janet Vail, associate research scientist at the AWRI. “It is a great networking event for students and parents to meet others in the GVSU ‘family’ while on the water.”
There will be three cruises that each take two hours on Saturday, and tickets are $15 each.

To see a complete list of the more than 40 Family Weekend events, visit