The flavors of fun are on the menu as Michigan Technological University serves up “Tasty Foods for Wintry Moods” at its 101st Winter Carnival Feb. 8-11.
While some Winter Carnival games and competitions are already completed or underway, the region's largest seasonal festival fires up to peak level on Wednesday, Feb. 8, as students construct one-night statues and complete monthlong builds during the legendary All-Nighter. From cheers at the broomball rinks to dance jams thumping from a wall of snow-embedded speakers, campus will be alive with sound and motion throughout the evening. Students have until 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, to complete statues; judging follows at 9:30 a.m., with results announced late Thursday afternoon.
Check, Please! Winter Carnival Website Offers All the Details
Get the complete MTU Winter Carnival schedule and other essential information. Visit the website Friday to see photos of all the winning statues.
Like pickled eggs, staying out in the cold all night to construct statues from snow and ice is an acquired taste. Thousands of Huskies over the years have acclimated to both Tech traditions. They, and the crowds taking in the spectacle, will be nourished during the slush-packing, ice-axing, sculpture-ironing marathon by additional food options this year, said MTU Blue Key National Honor Society President Joe Dlugos. Blue Key is the student organization responsible for staging Carnival.
“With this year's food theme, we took on a new adventure of accepting external vendors,” said Dlugos. The preliminary list of participating eateries includes The Forge, Chicago Beefs and Jim's Pizza. “We will still have the favorites everyone loves, including pasties (pass-tees), chili, the Huskies Pep Band's fried foods and Guardians of the North's pancake breakfast,” Dlugos said.
His personal favorite among the region's wintry foods is the traditional Cornish pasty, fondly described by one MTU alum as a “Yooper Burrito.”
“It's a hard decision, but if I had to pick one favorite food associated with MTU and our community, I would have to go with a classic pasty — especially a breakfast pasty from Roy's (Pasties & Bakery),” said Dlugos. As many Huskies know, determining who makes the best pasty, and what to top it with, is a long-running Copper Country debate. Sessions on how to make a Cornish pasty have been among the most popular events at Michigan Tech's annual Alumni Reunion.
Moments as Sweet as a Deep-fried Twinkie
Dlugos, a third-year environmental engineering major, has two Carnivals under his belt. His favorite memory is from All-Nighter 2022, when he and other Blue Key members took a 3 a.m. drive to view the statues. “It was a very peaceful experience because there were not many people out and the crews were still working hard,” he said. “I love seeing the statues come together, and it is even more astonishing in the early morning hours before judging.”
Snow Shenanigans on the Houghton Waterfront
Each year, Blue Key members contribute hundreds of hours of time planning and carrying out Winter Carnival, which draws thousands to the area, including returning Huskies. The City of Houghton, Tech's home base, is one of the many Keweenaw communities that eagerly look forward to Carnival and support it in every way possible.
Houghton City Manager Eric Waara said the city plans to build a snow lounge on the new waterfront pier. The original idea to construct a snow maze lost steam due to the January thaw and they shifted plans. “We'll try our hand at building couches, loveseats and coffee (or the beverage of your choice) tables,” he said. “If anyone wants to help, dress warm and bring a shovel. We'll shuttle water for slushing. It won't be as elaborate as the student pros, but it should be fun.”
"For generations, Winter Carnival has been a focal point for winter in Houghton that has brought people home and given those of us fortunate enough to call Houghton our home another reason to go outside and enjoy our winters."
Blue Key envisions Winter Carnival statues on the Houghton City pier someday. Dlugos said it will take more time to work out the details. “We hope to bring some statues down there next year,” he said.
In keeping with their service to campus and community, 2023 Blue Key members want to establish their own Winter Carnival legacy among the event's many beloved traditions. “Blue Key is trying to give back to the community that Michigan Tech is a part of by including businesses around the local area. Bringing in more food options was one of our first ideas,” said Dlugos. “We hope that will continue in years to come.”
Huskies around the globe will also be contributing to Michigan Tech's legacy during Winter Carnival. Give Back to the Pack, a 48-hour giving challenge, runs Feb. 8-10. It offers Huskies a chance to donate to the programs that are meaningful to them, from student scholarships and faculty endowments to student endeavors like Enterprise and Winter Carnival.
Winter Carnival is a big job for a small team. “Although we have low membership this year, we are still working through all of our tasks and ensuring that everything can go as smoothly as possible,” said Dlugos. “We are focused on making sure that everyone can have a grand time at Winter Carnival. Each committee is in its final stages, so everyone is relieved to see everything coming together!”
"I am really proud of the hard work that each Blue Key member is putting in. We could not have a successful Winter Carnival if it wasn't for this amazing group!"
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.