Winterfest to provide new opportunities

Starting this year, students will become involved with the concert by filling production and hosting positions

Liberty University is planning to have its largest Winterfest yet, with more than 8,000 people packing the campus, and some students will have the opportunity of a lifetime, according to John Rost, director of campus productions.

Matthew Hockensmith, special events coordinator under national recruitment, explained that Winterfest is a fun way for juniors in high school and early college-age students to bring in the New Year.

“Winterfest is two action-packed days of high-energy activities and entertainment, and life-changing spiritual growth,” said.

Liberty is now using students as well as professionals to help produce Winterfest, Rost said. Students will be taking on production roles as well as the four hosting positions.

“As we develop the program in the School of Communication & Creative Arts, we are trying to look for opportunities where students can get involved in a professional status,” Rost said. “The goal is to pair production students with professionals in a mentoring relationship so that they are learning from skilled people that have many years of experience.”

According to Rost, more than 40 students showed up to try out for the hosting position Wednesday, Nov. 6, which can help students get hands-on experience.

“We have at Liberty many people that are looking toward careers in front of the camera, and there is only so much that can happen in a classroom environment,” Rost said. “This is an opportunity to put future TV hosts in front of a real camera, in front of a real audience with real pressure.”

Rost sent out the results of the auditions Nov. 20, announcing that Liberty students Lauren Creekmore, Tory Abrahamsen, Tucson Vanloo and Julie Guy will be hosting this year’s Winterfest, he said.

According to Guy, a junior in the communication program, when she found out she was selected as one of the hosts, she was shocked. She thought she had a good audition but was not sure if she would actually get the position.

“This opportunity is huge,” Guy said. “The fact that I get the chance to get on a national broadcast is definitely a great résumé builder. It’s something that you don’t get the chance to do too often, so when it’s here, you got to make the best of it.”

According to Rost, although the student hosts will not be left without people to help guide them, they will have the privilege of performing all the tasks that a normal host would have.

“Two of (the hosts) will be on a set, and the other two will be running around the auditorium with a camera doing interviews with fans and other celebrities,” Rost said. “We are hoping to do interviews with each one of the musical acts prior to the event that we will then air during the event.”

Hosts will get to interview such acts as Skillet, Third Day and some of the Robertsons from the hit reality show Duck Dynasty, Hockensmith said.

According to Hockensmith, Winterfest will be broadcasted live on JC-TV, Tri-State Christian Television and several local stations with a potential audience of more than 100 million households in the United States and more than two million viewers from 15 countries in Europe and Asia.

“It gets (students) experience with a large upscale production that is going into millions of homes, but also we know that our students here are the best,” Hockensmith said. “It really shows the type of talent we have here on campus by having students get involved with the production.”

Students also have the opportunity to work other positions as well — running cameras, floor and technical directing, assisting with lighting and audio, stage managing and any other active production positions that are available, according to Rost.

“This year’s broadcast is far above anything that has been done in the past, from the standpoint of we have a much larger audience that is watching, and we are trying to hit the quality of a major awards show or a major concert,” Rost said. “We want to elevate students into primary roles as quickly as they are ready to accept them.”

For more information about Winterfest, visit

One comment

  • Roseanne Iannotti

    So proud of my daughter, Julie Guy! She did really well and it was a great opportunity! Thank you John Rost and Dean Norm Mintle for executing such a great broadcast!!!

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