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Middlebury’s winter carnivals are certainly not the same now as they were back in 1934. With time usually comes change, and that certainly applies to this one weekend during the harsh winter in Middlebury, Vermont. The first official Winter Carnival at the college was held in 1934 and was sponsored by the Mountain Club. Winter Carnival nowadays is still run by students at the college, but it has a different presence on the campus. In the current Winter Carnivals, there is still a focus on the sporting events like skiing and hockey; however, some of the social events such as the Carnival Ball and traditions like the coronation of a carnival king and queen are less popular and even extinct from the realm of Winter Carnival. Skiing in particular has changed significantly. In fact, Middlebury’s Winter Carnival began as a dual ski meet against Norwich but has grown into a competition among colleges from all over the country. The growth in popularity and diversity of the colleges that attend this carnival weekend represents a want to celebrate all that Middlebury has to offer. This one weekend has had a positive impact on the Middlebury community since 1934, and the college still appreciates the way in which it creates a type of celebration of the wonders that Middlebury has to present.



While Winter Carnival has been present every year since it’s introduction in 1934, some years have been tougher than others in maintaing its existence. For example, between 1980 and 1984, there was so little snow that many skiing events were cancelled, which dampened the mood of the weekend. Also, the reality of World War II had an obvious impact on the ability of Winter Carnival to thrive. Many students were away serving their country; however, the spirit of the college had to continue on without them, and Winter Carnival was able to persevere through these years of conflict. Apparently students who had stayed behind at the college during the war were working so hard that they needed the break that the carnival would give them.  This is expressed when the February 17, 1943 edition of The Campus told Winter Carnival to “let a wave of your magical winter wand dispel thought and seriousness for just two gay days.  Refresh our minds and make them clear, that we may settle down to a more earnest seriousness than ever, when you leave.” The 1946 Winter Carnival was the first one held after the conclusion of World War II, and for many students, this was the first time they were able to see and participate in one of Middlebury’s most famous traditions. It was symbolic because the war had ended and spirit and community feel of the Middlebury campus could commence after a long period of worry and separation.


*Please click here to learn more about the obstacles Middlebury’s Winter Carnival has faced, some of which resulted in the changes that were highlighted above.

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