As snow begins to fall in Binghamton for the first time this season, the hype, energy and warmth of Spring Fling is probably the furthest thing from students’ minds.
But Saturday marks the second anniversary of its wintry counterpart: Frost Fest.
Frost Fest began last year when funds once used to provide free food during Binghamton University’s Spring Fling were reallocated for the winter event.
According to Aaron Cohn, Student Association vice president for programming, this year’s event will be “brighter and more vibrant” than the year before.
“Last year we were trying to reinvent the wheel and it was a huge success,” Cohn said. He said that last year was new ground for the programming board, but that this year would be more about making refinements and learning from last year.
Frost Fest 2009, for instance, featured a “snowboarding simulator” that was a surfboard on a pivoting platform. Cohn said that would be tossed for improvements to other events.
This year there will be an improved artificial skating rink in the Tillman Lobby of the Old University Union. The artificial ice, which skaters can glide on using standard ice skates, will be a higher grade than that of last year — the same grade that some professional hockey teams use to practice, according to Cohn.
Some of last year’s hits will be carried over to this year as well.
According to Sara Parrish, the concerts chair of the SA Programming Board, the stuffed animal-making program, was one of the most coveted events last year.
“People were like punching each other to get Build-A-Bear,” she said emphatically of the stuffed animal-making program.
Parrish also said that several area restaurants will offer free food. Nezuntoz, Escape State Street, Lupos and Papa John’s will provide samples of their cuisine.
Last year, when the event was new, it took some convincing to get the vendors to agree to provide food for free, according to Parrish. She said the restaurants were uneasy about giving away their products. But Frost Fest proved to be a valuable contribution to their businesses.
“All the same restaurants that came last year are coming back because it was so successful,” Parrish said. She said Nezuntoz even reported a spike in student customers after last year’s Frost Fest.
This year’s event will also feature ice sculptures, a professional musher with a sled and sled dog, a human snow globe, a chocolate fountain, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, a photo booth, a caricature artist, student group performances and several other activities.
Though Frost Fest will last just four hours, an event like this does not come together in one night. Parrish said she and others have been planning the event since the summer before this fall semester.
She also acknowledged its ancestry in Spring Fling, but said it has a different approach.
“It attracts the same kind of people, but we’re trying to get a different vibe,” she said, calling it “a calmer, more relaxing event.”
Frost Fest is free to students and will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday in the Old Union Hall, Tillman Lobby and the Mandela Room.