Rocking in the new year
Liberty recruitment prepares to host Winterfest 2015 concerts and speakers
Complete with Christian music artists, speakers and activities, Liberty University’s 14th annual Winterfest will take place Dec. 30-31.
Bands such as NEEDTOBREATHE, For King and Country and Casting Crowns will accompany speakers such as David Nasser, Clayton King and illusionist Jim Munroe at the event, according to liberty.edu. The event drew about 8,000 people a day in 2014. Assistant Director of Recruitment–Strategic Partnerships Aaron Marks expects to have a similar turnout this year.
“The climax of the whole event is the countdown to New Year’s,” Marks said. “Many people have never had the chance to be in a room with 8,000 of their closest friends to celebrate New Year’s. … It’s a great time just to celebrate the past year.”
Winterfest was started in order to “showcase what Liberty University had to offer” and bring in the New Year on a positive note, Marks said. The artists and speakers are specifically chosen to provide Christian encouragement.
“Liberty University wanted to provide an event, not only to perspective students but also to families as an alternative event that they could attend with their kids and friends,” Marks said. “We wanted it just to be a great time to really focus on the year and on the year to come but do it with a lot of fun.”
Winterfest draws many high school students, and it is an opportunity for them to get a taste of what Liberty has to offer as a college. Those who attend are able to experience Liberty’s amenities such as Snowflex, the LaHaye Student Center and other recreational opportunities the school offers. Additionally, there will be two youth leader sessions to encourage and invest in leaders during Winterfest, Marks said.
“We want to focus on the sheep and the shepherds when they come to Winterfest,” Marks said. “They leave with something tangible where they will actually have resources and materials that will help them as they continue to invest in the students that God has given them.”
In order to plan and coordinate Winterfest, Liberty’s team for strategic partnerships collaborates with the recruitment office and Liberty marketing, according to Marks. These teams know the ins and outs of setting up a large event and the different elements that must come together.
“We do have full production for Winterfest,” Marks said. “It’s the most production the Vines Center actually handles all year long. We bring in huge speakers, huge TV screens, the works.”
Winterfest takes a great deal of effort to produce. However, Marks said the many lives that the event touches makes the heavy workload worthwhile.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the campus from a recruitment perspective, but once everybody has had the chance to enjoy campus recreation and everything during the day, we … want to make the keystone of the night the gospel presentation,” Marks said. “Between David Nasser speaking on the 30th and Clayton King on the 31st we’re really expecting to see some really cool things happen spiritually. The utmost goal for us is to see students come here and have their hearts and minds changed by the gospel.”
Winterfest is also open to Liberty students to help with and attend. Liberty junior Grant Huizenga attended Winterfest in 2014 as a part of the altar call team. He remembered being “baffled by the Lord’s work through the event” and recommended Winterfest to others.
“My favorite part was when, amidst the rush of people coming forward for the altar call, a little girl, who was about as tall as my waist … told me all about her love for God and Jesus and how she wanted to accept the Lord into her heart,” Huizenga said. “It was absolutely adorable.”
Every year, Winterfest tries to add new elements in order to appeal to more people. Newly added giveaways at Winterfest include a scholarship, a GoPro and a meet and greet with one of the artists, according to liberty.edu.
All event access tickets range from $55 to $160. More information can be found at liberty.edu/winterfest.
Steptoe is a news reporter.