Despite attendance issues, Winterfest earns an A

Annual event offers plenty of cold-weather activities, but needs more students to enjoy them

This university may not cancel classes as often as students would like, but at least they manage to make sub-zero temperatures enjoyable every now and then.

With its sixth-annual Winterfest following the decades-long tradition of winter festivals, UB once again established that snow and ice isn’t all bad – and that students here occasionally manage to enjoy Buffalo’s admittedly unenjoyable winters.

Student Life, which organized Saturday’s event, does an admirable job of offering activities that appeal to university students, like the ever-popular broomball and the more traditional ice skating and snowman building.

Offering free food at Winterfest – the trendy “chili in a bag” – is also a savvy move by event organizers, because arguably nothing attracts college students quicker than complimentary snacks.

Equally important, the more competitive games help students stay warm out on the ice and in the snow.

Winterfest may seem like a simple opportunity to have some free fun – and it is – but it’s also a useful break in the tedium of trudging through snow and cursing the weather. Helping students remember that winter can be fun, with a little effort, is an admirable task, done well by Student Life.

The festival cost around $3,000, according to the co-chair for the event. Funded in part by Campus Living, Winterfest is also paid for with students’ mandatory activity fee. Events like this one, which don’t carry a hefty price tag, are an appealing use of such fees.

But it does demonstrate the ongoing issue at the heart of the activity fee. Though the festival was easily accessible for students living on North Campus, or who happened to be on campus that Saturday, students living on South Campus or in neighboring areas were simply left out in the cold – or in this case, left out of it.

Offering some smaller-scale activities on South Campus could help include students living in the Heights areas, and in the dorms on the campus, while also promoting the festival’s main events.

Because despite the largely positive reviews from students who participated in Winterfest activities, there simply weren’t that many students who joined in – attendance numbered in the hundreds.

Like last year, when about 400 students participated, the festival didn’t attract large numbers of students – which is a shame.

In order to justify the cost and get more students to take advantage of the event, more promotion is needed – advertising exciting prizes and competitive activities could help draw more students to the festival.

Equally important, increased accessibility would improve attendance.

The festival ran from noon to 10:00 p.m. this year, an improvement from last year’s brief, five-hour span. Offering activities on more than one day would also make it easier for more students to attend.

If Winterfest could occur on a Friday and Saturday, students who commute to North Campus for their classes would have the opportunity to participate.

The event’s organizers have expressed that they’d like to see increased attendance at Winterfest, and accomplishing that is entirely up to them. Student Life does a great job with Winterfest. The festival is consistently well organized and greatly enjoyed – but only by the students fortunate enough to have the chance to attend.