UVM students help local Winter Festival keep its tradition alive

The annual Burlington Winter Festival, which consists of various winter related events and kids’ activities, will be held along Church Street on Feb. 5. The festival offers attendees various entertainment options, as well as a chance to watch artists create snow sculptures for the Vermont State Snow Carving Competition. Attendees are able to watch as contestants attempt to advance in the competition, winning the chance to compete in the National Snow Sculpting Competition held every year in Lake Geneva, Wis. The festival, which is a 19-year tradition, features the hard work of many organizations, including a group of UVM students. “There has been a collaborative partnership between the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Parks and Recreation and UVM students that participate in the community development and applied economics Event Planning class,” event coordinator with Burlington Parks and Recreation Nancy Bove said. Through the Event Planning class — a winter session course taught by Jessica Hyman — a group of UVM students are taught business skills while aiding the Church Street Marketplace and Burlington Parks and Recreation in the development of the festival, ensuring its success year after year, according to the course’s description.  The course, offered through continuing education, allowed students to work in a hands-on, business-oriented environment that ultimately aided in fostering the relationship between UVM students and members of the Burlington community over winter break. Bove commented on the importance of these students’ involvement in the festival’s success. “I’ve been working to help coordinate the Winter Festival since 1993, and we’ve really gotten to develop partnerships over the last four years, which has been great,” Bove said. “Students have provided very good ideas and leadership. The kids are savvy in terms of social media and produce something that we couldn’t have done by ourselves. I really value the partnership we have come to have with UVM.” UVM’s role in helping prepare for the festival came as a response to citywide budget cuts, Bove said. The Church Street Marketplace and Burlington Parks and Recreation started the planning of the festival by working with three student interns, before the whole class joined for a week in January. The students in the class were broken into teams based on various aspects of the festival. The students worked through winter break to help create an event with many entertainment options. On top of the ice-carving competitions, festival attendees will also be given the option to enjoy children’s activities at ECHO and City Hall, concerts throughout the afternoon and a contra dance in City Hall at night. “Overall, it has been a wonderful experience working with the UVM students who were kind enough to give their time,” Bove said.