UVM class co-hosts Winterfest

From football players plunging into frigid Lake Champlain to chainsaw-wielding Vermonters carving ice on Church St., Burlington’s WinterFest provided several options for winter entertainment.And a UVM class was behind it all.The Event Planning class of UVM’s Community Development and Applied Economics Department (CDAE) partnered with Vermont Special Olympics, Kids Vermont Camp and School Fair, Burlington Parks and Recreation and the ECHO Center to host Burlington WinterFest.Event Planning is a four-day class held over winter break from Jan. 2-6. The class is led by Lynn Gregory, Associate Professor of Public Communication. Twenty four students enrolled in the course this year.Winter Festival is a 15-year tradition in Burlington and uses community support to fundraise and make the event possible, CDAE’s Parks and Recreation community partner Nancy Bove, said. This was the second year that CDAE’s event planning course has organized Burlington’s Winter Festival. “Parks and Recreation stopped getting funding by Burlington for the event so we had the idea to take on the activity ourselves as part of a class,” Gregory said. “It is an event based on donations. We went door to door asking local businesses if they would be willing to help. A lot of the businesses went above and beyond our hopes and expectations,” Emily Gross, a UVM senior and participant in the Event Planning course, said.Chittenden bank was the event’s presenting sponsor and donated a total of $5,000. The event hosted a snow carving competition and “ice walk” on Church Street. Local artists created sculptures out of ice in front of Church Street businesses.Sculptures are illuminated for night viewing and community members can vote online for their favorite one.The Event Planning students picked the judges for the contest. “We tried to choose people who had skill so they could give an objective opinion on the sculptures,” Gross said. Rachel Fogel, UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel’s wife, was one of the judges. “We also wanted people that would be recognized in the community,” Gross said. Other winter festival activities included a snow garden in city hall park for kids to play and make snowmen, face painting and henna tattooing, an exposition at the Echo center and raffle prizes, Gross said. “When I first got into the class I didn’t know what to expect. Having to accomplish the event and watching it happen and being so successful it really is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had coming out of a class at UVM,” Gross said.”It’s a huge sense of accomplishment for all of us.” The event was also a fundraiser for CDAE graduate Courtney Blasius Courtney graduated from UVM in the spring of 2007. Courtney went into cardiac arrest on Sept. 12 and is currently in rehab. “Support for Courtney” is a fundraiser set up to help pay for her current medical bills because she didn’t have insurance at the time of her accident. At the time of publication the total amount raised had not been counted.