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Winter Weather Fun: The History of Snow Week

By February 15, 2024No Comments

With the recent snow drop in the Twin Cities, we are reminded of a campus-wide event held annually around this time of year, where students were able to celebrate the winter season. Creatively dubbed, Snow Week, it was an annual event on campus that started at the end of January in 1939 as a “carnival of fun on ice and snow” (1) by the Social Coordinating Committee and sponsored by the Union Board of Governors and Athletic Department. 

Student Unions and Activities records, Photographs of Skiing and Student Life, 1940-1949

The elected chairman of this first year program, E. William Cowdry, stated, “We’ve got the weather and the facilities here in Minnesota, and with student backing, snow week will become an annual University tradition” (1). The first annual Snow Week included ski-jumping at Taylors Falls, an ice sculpture on the Mall, a snow sculpture competition, a decoration contest of the fraternity and sorority housing, sleigh rides and an ice fiesta at Theodore Wirth Park (1). Additionally, a Snow Queen was voted upon and announced following the start of Snow Week (2). The first year was deemed a success, but the committee’s hope was to “work toward making the occasion entirely all-University in character” for future years to come (3).

By the early 1960s, Snow Week was changed to the “University of Minnesota Winter Week” as students thought naming it “Snow Week” put a ‘jinx’ on having any snow for the activities planned for the event (4). The committee even began arranging the dates to early and mid February, by 1963, due to the lack of snow and winter weather (5). Winter Week as an event name also didn’t last long, as it was once again changed to Sno-Daze by the late 1960s (6)

Snow Week as an all-University event was no longer held at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, though many students tried to revive it. In one instance, the Student Unions and Activities attempted a “Winterfest Week” which was a winter style of the annual SummerFest, during the late 1990s (7). In 2003, Snow Week returned as a campus tradition and was sponsored by the Student Activities Office. This week-long event included dog sledding, a presentation of a dancing group, “Step Afrika!” in honor of Black history month, wax hand creations, a comedic performance, and SnoBall 2003 (8). Yet this tradition did not become an annual event and has remained as such to this day.  


  1. The Minnesota Daily: January 12, 1939 
  2. The Minnesota Daily: January 24, 1939
  3. The Minnesota Daily: February 1, 1939
  4. Press Releases, January – March 1964
  5. The Minnesota Daily: January 15, 1963
  6. Press Releases, January – February 1968
  7. The Minnesota Daily, January 08, 1997
  8. Press Releases, 2003


—Katelyn Morken is the Research Services and Student Life Archivist for the University of Minnesota Archives. To learn more about the University of Minnesota Archives, please visit

Katelyn Morken

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