MSU-Northern's Aurora Borealis Festival set for Sunday
Last updated 8/23/2021 at 1:39pm
Montana State University Northern’s Welcome Back Weekend is already in full swing, and will be capped off with a new event at noon on Sunday, the Aurora Borealis Festival.
The festival will include live music, free food, outdoor lawn games, and a chance for students to connect with university groups as well as well as local organizations and businesses.
MSU-N Dean of Students Corey Kopp said this festival will hopefully provide a relaxed but fun welcome for students, and help them connect with the community.
“We’re trying to go with a light festival vibe to welcome everybody back,” Kopp said.
He said this event, as well as those that follow in the weeks after, are the result of nine months of work by himself and the Student Engagement Committee in conjunction with the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
He said when he was hired about a year ago, MSU-N Chancellor Greg Kegel tasked him with improving engagement between the students and the local community and this series of events is part of that push.
Kopp said students being more engaged in the local community doesn’t just benefit those outside the university, but improves in-class success among students and raises retention and persistence.
He said between 25 and 30 community organizations and businesses will be at the event, hoping to talk to students about what they can offer them while they’re here.
He said the festival will kick off five weeks of events to ring in the new year ending with Homecoming, all of which he hopes will build a stronger bond between students and the community and be a nice change of pace from the last 18 months.
“The goal is to keep (students) as engaged as possible and provide them as many opportunities as possible to make those connections,” he said.
Kopp said he and the committee have been working closely with the chamber on the event and they’ve helped to connect them with local organizations and businesses.
He said Julea Robbins in particular was instrumental in setting the event up and working with her has been great.
Robbins was similarly complimentary to Kopp and said MSU-N has done a great job connecting with partner businesses who agree that they want to connect more deeply with the students as well.
Robbins said businesses, as well as telling students what they can offer them, may also talk about jobs openings during their time on campus, or after.
She said the chamber and its member businesses are excited to set up on campus and hope the event will be a good lead-in to the Hi-Line Games during the area’s Festival Days celebration next month.
She said the event is a play on the Scottish Highland Games and will hopefully be another opportunity to build those bonds between community and the students.
Kopp said Sunday’s event will be outside if weather permits and attendees are encouraged to social distance when possible, and wear masks if they want to.
He said a return to normalcy is something he wants but the pandemic isn’t over so for now it must be a thoughtful normal that will keep everyone safe.
As for the weeks between the festival and Homecoming, he said, there will be a number of smaller events to welcome students back with more that may be added to the calendar later.
He said he hopes this will become a yearly series of events that will persist for a long time.
“We’re trying very hard to build some new traditions that will carry on well into the future,” he said.
Sunday’s festival will be held on campus from noon to 5 p.m. on the south side of Cowan Hall. Setup starts at 11 a.m.
Kopp said anyone still interested in participating in the event may still have time to sign up so they should get in touch with him at the university at [email protected] or 406.265.3704.
Signup documents can be found at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeQga