Middlebury Winter Carnival: Throwback

With the annual Winter Carnival right around the corner, here is a quick look at how this year’s 88th carnival draws upon some of its roots as one of the oldest carnivals in the nation. This year’s Carnival poster (right) features a design that tries to get a sense of the long tradition of the weekend while also evoking the beauty in our landscape.

The Winter Carnival Ball “dance card” was a tradition that fell by wayside. These examples are dated 1945-1949:

MCAB brought the dance card back this year as more of an invitation to the Ball. This may have caused minor confusion of many current students who may not have understood what a “ball program” is. Inside those dance cards, you’re supposed to write who you’re dancing with and for what kind of dance (waltz, foxtrot, etc.). Here’s what the 2011 cover looks like, borrowing a graphic from a 1940s carnival program:

Another tradition phased out was the Winter Carnival “king and queen.” Brought back again in 2011 complete with an attempt to make it less traditionally gendered than the old days, the voting so far has evoked some discussions among current students particularly because of the stereotypes surrounding this kind of thing. A 1949 photograph of the crowned winners:

Okay, random but here’s the 1969 version of the Ball held in the Johnson Memorial Art Building. Anything look familiar/recognizable?

The Middlebury Winter Carnival has always been built around the ski races. And this years’ Klondike Rush (see the scheduled events) is supposed hark back to the days of the informal celebrations that preceded the formal ski awards ceremonies.

As described in a carnival program: “Certainly Klondike Rush winds up Carnival with just the right, informal note. There is good music for dancing, lots of enthusiasm and vocal talent for song fests, and always some floor space for bridge playing or just plain sitting.” Wow… The graphic to the left ran with that description. Notice the matching sweaters.

Thanks to Middlebury Special Collections / the College Archive for the great photos and documents that help us look back at Middlebury of yore. And here’s to Winter Carnival!

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