Between Feb. 8 and Feb. 12, the University Programming Council (UPC) hosted Winter Fest, a week-long event featuring various fun winter-themed activities. 

An older campus tradition, Winter Fest had not been done the previous three years, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a new board, it was brought back to provide students with some entertainment as they enter the new semester.

“Essentially what it is, is it's just a week-long series of events that are all interconnected just to welcome students back to campus and to provide some sort of entertainment during that time that school starts to get stressful,” said senior Natalie Kasberger, UPC Campus Traditions Chair.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s Winter Fest featured a mix of both virtual and in-person events. 

On Feb. 8, UPC live streamed a new episode of the UPC Virtual Cooking Show, an ongoing series on Instagram hosted by members of UPC. For the Winter Fest episode, freshman Ashley Vernon showed her step-by-step guide for making winter-themed cake balls.

On Feb. 9, there was a hot chocolate bar, a drop-in event in the Library’s Community Room in which people could get hot chocolate and a mug.

“It was a fun event. And there were a lot of people that just kind of stopped by, which was the goal of that event, just to have people that were passing through or already in the library come and just grab a cup of hot chocolate. And then people could decorate mugs as they wanted to. So that went pretty well,” Kasberger said. 

Feb. 10 was a singalong to the movie “Frozen”. In order to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines, UPC ordered individual toy microphones for people to use during the event. Masks, however, were still required, including while singing.

On Feb. 11, students could come out to the Campus Cafe patio to watch ice sculptures be made. The Valpo shield and a penguin were made out of two large blocks of ice by artists Jesica Grafer and Tony Rogowski of Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures. The sculptures will remain out on the patio for all to enjoy until they eventually melt.

For the final day, Feb. 12, UPC hosted a variety of activities in the Chapel View Lounge, including a snowboarding simulator, air hockey and free food. For the snowboarding simulator, the individual stood on a screen and shifted their weight while looking at a screen to mimic actual snowboarding.

Due to the success of this year’s Winter Fest, it was indicated that it may be held again next year. Kasberger also gave her view on why UPC hosts events both like these and in general.

“I see them as just opportunities for students to spend just a little bit of time taking a break, relaxing and doing something that takes your mind off of classes,” Kasberger said. “The motto or the saying that UPC uses a lot is ‘We make the fun happen.’ The whole goal of our organization is just providing experiences to students that just enhance the college experience by giving them a variety of fun things to engage with or engage in. They're events that allow students to take a break and also like, spend time with their friends.”

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