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Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival

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Title: Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival  
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Subject: Michigan Technological University, Winter festivals, Sherman Field, Women at Michigan Technological University, Michigan Tech Huskies
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Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival

Statue inspired by Calvin & Hobbes, 2006 (one nighter)

Michigan Technological University's Winter Carnival is an annual celebration that takes place every winter in Houghton, Michigan. It is a time to celebrate the large amounts of snowfall Michigan's Upper Peninsula receives each winter. Winter Carnival is characterized by snow statues, outdoor games, and many student activities.


  • 1922- Michigan Tech students held a one night ice carnival. It was circus themed and many of the students dressed as animals.
  • 1924- Once again a circus theme prevailed and a tent was put up in front of the old Shop building and a show was performed.
  • 1928- The Winter Carnival Queens competition began. Women were judged on their beauty, ice skating, and skiing skills.
  • 1930- Winter Carnival did not take place due to the stock market crash of 1929.
  • 1934- Blue Key National Honor Fraternity began organizing Winter Carnival.
  • 1935- A two game intercollegiate hockey series with the University of Minnesota was added to the activities of Winter Carnival.
  • 1936- Michigan Tech students and Houghton school children began building snow statues.
  • 1940- A lack of snow delayed Winter Carnival until February. This became a permanent change. Also in this year a downhill ski meet was added due to the installation of a ski hill.
  • 1944- Winter Carnival once again did not take place, this time due to World War Two.
  • 1946- Winter Carnival resumed and a stage revue was added.
  • 1947- The beards competition was also added to the events lineup.
  • 1959- Two buses brought fifty-two girls and the traditional dance, the Sno-Ball began.
  • 1962- The flare pageant, now known as The Torchlight Parade, which takes place down the ski hill was added.
  • 1963- A short lived Tall Tales Tournament took place.
  • 1966- Michigan Tech students sent snowballs to Southwest Texas University so students there could have a campus wide snowball fight.
  • 1979- The Canadian band “The Guess Who” performed two concerts during Winter Carnival.
  • 1987- Dump trucks brought snow from surrounding locations for the statues due to the late and light snowfall early in the '86-'87 winter season.
  • 1993- The Tug Of War competition on ice was added.

Snow Statues

Month-long statue from 2010 with a Mario theme

The largest tourist attractions of Winter Carnival are the monumental snow statues. Every year Blue Key National Honor Society chooses a theme and students compete to build the best statue at Michigan Tech. There are many categories in which to compete, but the two main categories are the month-long competition and the one-nighter competition. The statues that are part of the month long competition are typically much larger and much more detailed. Most of the statues in the month long competition are built by fraternities and sororities, with a few residence halls and student organizations joining in on the fun. The one nighter statues are built during the first night of Winter Carnival, Wednesday. This night is referred to as the “All-Nighter”. All students participating in the statue competition must be done with their statues by 8:00 AM on Thursday morning. That means that students who participated in the one night competition have only had sixteen hours to work on their statues since their construction began at 4:00 PM on Wednesday. Statues must be pristine white and structurally sound; they must be self-supporting with no external scaffolding or hidden beams inside.

Winter Carnival Queen

One of Michigan Tech Winter Carnival's oldest traditions is the crowning of a Winter Carnival queen. This tradition began in 1928, six years after the first Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech, and has seen many different candidates through the years.[1] The competition begins with around 30 candidates in early December and makes it way down to the final eight competitors for Winter Carnival. The queen receives her crown of copper and a bouquet after she wins the competition of being judged on a talent like singing or acting, interview questions, academics, and involvement around campus the weekend before Winter Carnival.[2] Then it is said that the queen is to “reign of her land” and make appearances at hockey games, stage revues, and around the campus. This includes awarding the MVP of the hockey games a trophy, riding the Zamboni, judging snow sculptures, and being in the town parade.

Greek Involvement

During Winter Carnival Michigan Technological Universities’Greek community plays a large role. Winter Carnival is a huge tourist attraction, mostly because of the enormous snow statues. There are two different types of statues, month-long statues and one nighter statues. While this is a large part of Greek involvement in Winter Carnival, that is not the extent of it. Greeks also participate in a number of other activities in order to gain points to be the overall winner of Winter Carnival. Some of these activities include the statue competition, the Queen's competition, The Winter Carnival Stage Revue, Beards competition, and some athletic competitions. Being the overall winner of winter carnival is a very prestigious award and gives one fraternity and one sorority bragging rights until the next Winter Carnival. Link label

Blue Key National Honor Society

  • Michigan Technological University Blue Key chapter organizes the Winter Carnival festivities on campus. The group is divided up into six categories: Special Events, Stage Revue, Statues, Funding/Awards, Publicity, and Queens. Countless hours are put into the planning and carrying out of winter carnival and a lot is done by this fine group behind the scenes.
    • Special Events group is in charge of the events that occur during winter carnival. Some of them include: snow volleyball, beards competition, broomball, cross-country skiing, curling, downhill skiing, human dogsled race, ice bowling, ice fishing, skating, snowboarding, tug-o-war, and the yooper sprint. This group is responsible for all aspects of the events from getting the equipment to scheduling the time and place.
    • The Stage Revue Group is the group that oversees the show and all of its aspects, from being a part of the rehearsing to judging the show as well.
    • The Statues Group is in charge of making sure the right equipment is where it needs to be. They oversee the building of the statues but also provide safety sessions before building starts that everyone is required to attend.
    • The Funding/Awards is in charge of getting judges, sales, and fundraising for Winter Carnival.
    • The Publicity Group is the liaison for Winter Carnival. They are up to date on what is happening at the moment. They also organize the annual “Sno Ball” and are in charge of updating the website.
    • The Queens Group is in charge of running the pageant show. They are responsible for finding judges and schedule and interview and any other aspects of the competition.
    • Finally they are the decision maker for the theme of winter carnival. Recent themes have been: A Frigid Place Gets a Blast from Space (2009), Games We Know Captured in Snow (2010), Thousands of Pages Unfold in the Bitter Cold (2011), and From All Over the State, What Makes Michigan Great (2012).

Special Events

  • Two series hockey game with a WCHA opponent.
  • Broomball- a very popular game all throughout the winter at Michigan Tech, is even more popular during Winter Carnival. Games are scheduled throughout the 4 day span of Winter Carnival.
  • All-Nighter is a campus wide event and includes lots of different activities besides the statue building. Prior to all-nighter a set of speakers are put into a stereo made of snow. Music is played for all of campus to enjoy until about 3:00 AM. There is also an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast served until 7:00 AM.
  • The Stage Revue is a competition of skits. Anybody is allowed to put together a skit, but Greek organizations are the most common participants.
  • Beards competition is a month long competition for men to grow a beard, mustache, goatee, or sideburns and then perform a skit.

See also


  1. ^ “Winter Carnival Queen Finalist Selected” The Lode, Dec. 5, 2001. CCVF: Winter Carnival 2001. MTU Archives & CCHC.
  2. ^ “Hancock Girl to Reign Over Carnival” Daily Mining Gazette, Jan. 17, 1936. CCVF: Winter Carnival 1936. MTU Archives & CCHC.

External links

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