UWO’s Winter Carnival: over 50 years of tradition

Kylie Balk-Yaatenen, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The Winter Carnival at UW Oshkosh has been a tradition for more than 50 years, and many of the activities such as ice sculpting have continued to today.

Many, but not all. For instance, residence halls and Greek organizations once chose kings and queens to represent their groups as part of the activities.

Suelynn Seianas Hanegraaf, class of 1979, was UWO’s Winter Carnival queen in 1977. She said that the dorms on campus were asked to have their residents involved with as many events at the carnival as possible and as North Scott’s vice president, she was encouraged to put her name in the running. 

“One of the requirements of the competition was that each king and queen had to dress or personify the winter carnival theme,” she said. “The 1977 theme was ‘Guinness World Records’ and being a fun-loving college student, I chose World’s Sexiest Legs.”

She said being the queen was more of a photo opportunity for her and the king Gregory “Wally Karbo” Hietpas. 

“We also received bragging rights that we beat the other [organizations and clubs’] kings and queens,” she said. “There was a special awards night in Reeve Memorial Union’s Draught Board, and many of our friends from Scott Hall came and it was a lot of fun.”

She said that being the queen and taking up roles such as resident advocate, hall vice president, a member of the Reeve Union Board and many more campus organizations helped her gain valuable experience that she took into her adult life. 

“I will always treasure my years as a college student at UW Oshkosh, academically, personally and socially,” she said. “I developed leadership skills, relationship and communication skills and [I] gained confidence with even something as silly as winning Winter Carnival queen.”

Hanegraaf said that she likes to believe that being chosen Winter Carnival queen was a boost to her self confidence and helped her find her way by getting involved on campus. 

 “Today, I am happily married to my then-boyfriend at UWO, Phil Hanegraaf, also a floor rep of Scott Hall and [I] had a career in marketing and public relations, thanks to my journalism degree and minor in Radio/TV/Film.”

UWO’s Winter Carnival usually takes place sometime in March and is now a two-day event. This year’s event concludes today and the theme is Battle for the Guiles Cup. Roger Guiles was the university’s president from 1959-73. 

Cole Schmidt, the Reeve Union Board vice president, said that this year’s events include  trivia, ice sculpting, casino night and caricature artists. 

He said the best part about Winter Carnival is getting students involved with fun activities and traditions that have been a staple on campus.

Hanegraaf said that she encourages students to get involved with events on campus, join clubs and  organizations, and see for themselves how much they’ll gain in friendships and skills.