Homecoming weekend looked a little different this year, but through safety precautions, students were still able to celebrate Northwestern and its community.
All of the student events for homecoming weekend were brand new additions, specially devised around COVID-19.
On Friday, Lucas Heiberger, the admissions marketing and event strategist, scheduled Northwest Fest, an outdoor music festival with food and games on the green. Heiberger explains that outdoor festivals like LifeLight, previously held near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, were an inspiration for the event.
To create this ambiance, Heiberger pulled many bands from the community as well as student and faculty bands. A crowd favorite was Simm and the Ridgelines, led by Hospers Hall resident director Michael Simmelink. To get the outdoor festival food truck feel, Creative Dining hosted three different tents which allowed students to browse through different options.
“I’d love for this to become an annual tradition on Friday before Homecoming,” Heiberger said. “We’ll see what next year brings.”
Following Northwest Fest, the Student Activities Council hosted another new event: The Masked Singer, a singing competition between faculty members based on the reality TV show of the same name.
The premise of The Masked Singer is that each of the contestants is fully costumed with a mask, which conceals their identity, and the contestants’ voices are also disguised when they are not singing. Each of the judges must guess who the masked singers are based on clues, and at the end, the audience votes on their favorite musical performance.
Six faculty and staff competed Friday night, and Dr. Angela Holt, assistant professor of music and director of NW’s Symphonic Band, took home the trophy with an energetic performance of “Do You Love Me” by the Contours while dressed as a bear.
“I like much of the oldie songs, and it involved references to dances from that time period, which I was able to incorporate,” she said.
Another standout performance for those involved was theatre professor Drew Schmidt dressed as “No Face.”
“Having Drew Schmidt go so early was a big thing for the competitors,” said Simmelink, who performed at the event as a T-Rex. “We saw him going for it, and I think it [made us feel as though] we could let our hair down, too.”
Admissions counselor Sarah Pemberton, who performed as a bunny, said, “Northwestern should make this an annual event in my opinion. This was a blast and a half to be a part of.”
But the event wasn’t just popular with the faculty and staff.
As senior Kittrick Fynaardt pointed out, “It was a good reminder that the faculty are just as fun and engaged as the students.”
NW prides itself in community, and it’s clear that events like The Masked Singer really bring students and faculty together.
The final student event for homecoming weekend was a Latin American dance night, which was hosted by SAC, Campus Ministry Team and LaMosaic. At the event, students were given the opportunity to learn some popular Latin American dances, listen to pop and traditional Latin American music and try some tasty Latin American treats.
Martha Draayer, Hispanic community liaison, said that the event was created as a way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month since dance is an incredibly important art in Latin American culture. Draayer added that NW should continue to invest in events like this since Sioux County has a growing Latin American population.
“It’s important to learn to live in community and to love our nuance,” she said.
Next year she hopes to host an even larger event like a fiesta or a food fest.
Overall, homecoming, while different than years past, was still filled with joy and spirit in these newly pioneered student events.