CAB reimagines Winter Carnival as Winterfest


The winners of a snow sculpture contest from a 1960’s Winter Carnival at Grand Valley (Courtesy GVSU Archives)

Autumn Pitchure, Staff Reporter

Searching for fun activities for their students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Grand Valley State University will be hosting their first-ever Winterfest. Sydney Brzezinski, Campus Activity Board’s Director for Winterfest, said GVSU had done something similar in the 60s, 70s and 80s, calling it “Winter Carnival.” For 2021, CAB decided to bring the tradition back with a fresh spin, featuring events like ice skating, ice carving, and several food trucks.

Winterfest is a festival that gives GVSU students a chance to get outdoors and be active on their campus but also to warm up with friends by downing hot chocolate. The planned activities will be held from Feb. 5-14 on GVSU’s Allendale campus. Most of the events will be held at the Cook Carillon Tower outside of the Kirkhof Center. During all events and festivities, The Whale Radio will keep the week lively with some jams.

“We will be having live ice carvers for our grand opening,” Brzezinski said. “They have a lot of experience and have even made ice sculptures for the Super Bowl before.”

The ice carvers will be out on GVSU’s library sidewalk carving an outline of Michigan. It will be a four-by-four-foot sculpture

During the first week of February, GVSU typically hosts its annual President’s Ball. However, due to the pandemic and prioritizing students’ safety, it will not take place this year.

“Winterfest is not directly replacing the President’s Ball, but it is a fun activity to get people out of their rooms that is COVID-friendly and outside,” Brzezinski said. “We want people to have a bit of normalcy in their lives.”

There will be several other winter festivities for students to enjoy such as bonfires, crafts, outdoor lawn games, and a hot chocolate bar with hot chocolate bombs and cupcake decorating. All of the supplies are readily available at no cost to students.

“Some of the crafts happening will be succulent pot decorating, hot chocolate spoons, mask decorating, and canvas painting,” said Brzezinski.

The Office of Student Life will be doing giveaways, including succulents as well as a few other items to top the week off. Along with the crafts and sweet treats, there will be a history of Winterfest in the Cook Dewitt Center.

“For the history of Winterfest, we will be revealing the archives that we have,” said Brzezinski.

One of the main events taking place will be on Sunday, Feb. 13. Students can ice skate without traveling off the Allendale campus. A spacious ice skating rink will be right on campus in lot C.

“We are putting in an ice rink and are super excited about it,” Brzezinski said. “We will have the whole set up.”

To pair with all the winter festivities, there will also be food trucks offering students a way to warm up and devour foods such as cookie dough and tacos.

“We have personalized tokens — wooden nickels that have ‘GV’ on them — and students can earn those by doing activities,” Brzezinski said. “They can be used for money at our food trucks.”

There will be social media contests for students that aren’t on campus this semester. A snowman contest will take place opening up on Friday, Feb. 5, and closing at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7. The winners will be announced at 5 p.m. on the same day. Students can post their best snowman and tag them #winterfestsnowman21.

“We want to make sure that we are being inclusive to all of our students and alumni,” Brzezinski said. “Even parents can join in.”

GVSU is staying proactive by taking precautions with COVID-19, making sure everything is safe for the event.

“Everything is socially distanced and is COVID-friendly,” Brzezinski said. “We are cleaning everything and have designated volunteer cleaners. Everything will be safe.”

The Campus Activities Board is looking forward to seeing people come out for the first Winterfest and enjoying each other’s company during the wintertime.

“We want people to be able to come out and meet new people,” Brzezinski said. “Hopefully from it we will be able to introduce more people to events on campus and involve them in the Campus Activities Board.”

For more information on times and events, go to