Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog.

Join 6 other subscribers

10 Things To Do in Your First Week Of Class

WSU students study together

These students are confident and at ease–and you can be too!

Orientation Week might be over but there are still a few things you can do to be prepared for the beginning of classes. This first week can be pretty confusing as a freshman. You hear so much information all at once and it can be hard to retain it all. If you find yourself feeling a bit lost, this list can help you find your way so you can start off the year with a solid foundation. Prepare yourself with this helpful checklist.

  1. Check out the list of WSU clubs, and meet other students who share your interests. If you don’t see a club or organization and you want to start one, go for it!
  2. Go exploring! Grab some new friends and travel downtown to see what it has to offer, as well as other Winona hangouts.
  3. Organize your computer and download programs. Especially if you know you will be needing a specific program for a class, download it ASAP! Waiting to do this in class with everyone else will be a long slow process you’ll want to avoid. If you have any questions or issues with your new computer, go to Tech Support (second floor of Somsen) before classes start and get everything squared away.
  4. Order your books! Don’t know what books you will need? Search by your course to find which books your professor requires on the WSU bookstore website.
  5. Along with sending friend requests to everyone in your residence hall and classes, make sure you follow WSU on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to stay connected and updated on everything happening at WSU! And be sure to join your fellow freshmen in the Class of 2018 Facebook group.
  6. If you haven’t figured this out already, make sure you know how to log into your email and D2L. Also, be able to log onto “Find a Course” and locate your DARS report (knowing how to use this tool will make fulfilling your major and minor class requirements a lot easier!) If you want to update you major from undecided status, do so now! If you have questions about any of this visit the Warrior Hub in Maxwell 222.
  7. While you’re reviewing your DARS, look to see who your advisor is. Your advisor can help you make sure you have all the right classes to keep you on track.
  8. Get a pass at Lake Lodge to go canoeing, kayaking and more. It costs $5 for a year-long pass. The first time you sign up you have to fill out an info card so they can get you in the database, but after that you just have to renew your pass every year and you have unlimited access!
  9. Look for a job. This is not necessary for everyone, but if you are one of those who have to work through the school year now is the time to go around applying for jobs on and off campus.
  10. Check out the awesome Integrated Wellness Complex and solidify your workout routine! Like the Group Exercise Facebook Page if you would want the inside scoop on free workout classes.  This page is also a great place to find a work out buddy!

And, finally, are you excited for the year yet? Good! You’re especially excited now that you are well prepared and have all your questions answered, right?

Just remember: Part of being a college student is becoming independent and figuring things out on your own (even if you have to make a few mistakes along the way). Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use your resources! If you have any more questions about this list or even something not mentioned, leave a comment below and we will point you in the right direction!

–Anna Butler

For Snow, or Rain, or Heat, or Gloom of Night-- Better be Prepared!

An "all the things" meme about packing

Yep…this pretty much sums up preparing to move to college.

You are standing in front of your bedroom closet, then you turn to look at your desk covered in papers and knickknacks and the walls hung with photos and posters before glancing across the floor that is strewn with random objects you had forgotten you even owned but are now sentimental to you. And as you gaze upon all your possessions, you wonder “Where do I even begin to pack for college??

Is this scene ringing any bells for you? Well, that is how I felt, at least, when I was preparing to go to college, leaving behind the bedroom I’d called my own for almost 18 years and all its memories of childhood. Whether you are struggling with nostalgia or not, moving is such a hassle (I know, I’ve done it 5 times now) and you might be tempted to bring as few boxes with you as possible. But the reality is that you had better be prepared for everything– weather-wise and otherwise.

This is especially if your parents live several hours away (as mine do) since it isn’t so easy to run home and grab your winter coat, for example, when the weather turns cold disturbingly early. That’s all well and good but, you may be thinking, where are you going to put all that potentially necessary stuff in a college residence hall room?!? The key is to maximize the amount of space you do have and keep everything organized so you can find it easily.

This is what I have learned:

  • Use flat bins to get the most out of the space under the bed. Even if you don’t decide to loft your bed (which is an excellent way to gain extra floor space) you can still store a lot of stuff under it. I used three long, flat bins to store all my spring & summer clothes during the winter and then turned it into winter storage when the weather grew warm again.
  • Put shelving units inside the closet. This is an easy way to add extra storage space. In my closet, I used several milk crates stacked on their sides in mine to store bedding, towels and other supplies.
  • Buy lots of hangers and 3-M hooks. Hanging up most of your clothes in the closet will save you space in your dresser drawers. Putting up 3-M hooks on the back of the door or elsewhere around your room is a great way to keep coats within easy reach and let towels dry after showering.
  • Use shoe boxes as drawer dividers. Re-purposing shoe boxes as drawer dividers is a cheap, eco-friendly way to stay organized. I save all my shoeboxes (my mom would say I have a problem—but hey, you never know when you might need a box!) and use them in my dresser to make it easy find socks, underwear, make-up, and jewelry.
  • Hang some bulletin boards. Bulletin boards are a great way to de-clutter desktops and display photos but they can also be used to store necklaces, thus eliminating space-consuming jewelry trees. I hang all my necklaces up a bulletin board where they are in easy reach and kept from getting tangled.

The second key piece of advice I have is don’t bring things that you don’t really need:

  • Your entire book collection. Sorry! I am an English major so I understand your pain, but those beloved books will only take up space. Bring only a few of your very favorite books though honestly, you probably won’t have time to read them. If you do have time for pleasure reading, you can simply check books out from the Winona Public Library which is only a few blocks from campus.
  • Your cd/dvd collection. This one calls for the same logic as above; you simply don’t have the space to store stacks of cds or dvds. Instead, put all your music on your computer and/or iPod and listen to songs that way. The front desks in the res halls all have a wide movie selection that you can borrow using your student ID. However, if you can’t bear to leave your movies at home, do place all the discs in binder with plastic sleeves to eliminate dozens of bulky cases.
  • A vacuum and cooking equipment. The front desks in all the residence halls have vacuums available for students to check out. They also have pots and pans so if you want to do any baking these items are available. A small frying pan and quart-sized pot for macaroni are useful but you’ll most likely eat your main meals in the cafeteria.
  • A printer. There some 90 printers across campus, including the dorms, that WSU students can use for free. So why would you bring a big bulky printer and pay for all that ink and paper??

You’ll also want to coordinate with your roommate so that you don’t end up with two mini-fridges, two microwaves, floor lamps etc. Talking to your roommate before you actually move in is always a good idea—it makes sharing close quarters so much less awkward! Living in the residence hall is a fun challenge; this is just my advice to help your experience be more fun and less challenging by being prepared for everything.

–Liz Meinders

Your Guide to Textbook-Buying Basics

The front entrance to the WSU bookstore

Newly renovated, the WSU Bookstore has all the books you need ready on their shelves.

It seems like the beginning of fall semester is still so far away, but you should start looking for your textbooks now so you’ll be prepared for the first day of class.

Here’s how to get started:

1) Find out what books you need.

Well, this is an obvious first step but knowing where to look perhaps isn’t so self-explanatory. To find the books required for your classes, go to the WSU Bookstore and select 2014 Fall Semester from the “Select A Course” drop-down menu. Then scroll through the list of departments and courses to find each of your classes, then click on them to view the list of books you need.

2) Buy your books.

New books are fresh, crisp, free of any markings and are stocked and ready for you to pick up at the WSU bookstore. However, if you aren’t hankering for that new book smell and don’t mind a little highlighting, used books are an excellent way to save some cash.

Here’s where to find some deals on used books:

  • The WSU Bookstore – The biggest advantage to the WSU bookstore is you can grab the book you need instantly. There is no depending on the vagaries of FedEx or UPS and you don’t need to double and triple check that it is correct edition because your professors have ordered the books they want you to use through the WSU Bookstore. WSU Bookstore Bonus: all bookstore profits contribute to WSU scholarships and campus improvements. Did you catch that? 100 percent of profits go right back to WSU.
  • Wazoo’s List – This is a great resource that is open exclusively to the WSU community. Fellow WSU students post their books (and many other items as well) to the Wazoo’s List Facebook group for WSU students to buy. It’s all local and gets textbooks out of the homes of people who don’t need them and into the hands of those that do.
  • The Internet – You can also buy your textbooks from online stores such as Amazon, Textbooks.com, Chegg and others. These retailers may also give you the option to rent your textbooks which can save you money and the trouble of getting rid of them at the end of the semester. But be warned—it may be more difficult to find the exact copy your professor requires and you may encounter unexpected shipping delays.

Before you buy:

  • Make sure the book is the correct version you need. You can check this by cross-referencing the copyright date on the book and your course book list.
  • Some books may include discs or online codes and some used versions may not include these extras. Check that you’re book includes them, if not ask your professor to see if those extra materials are necessary.

Happy hunting!

An Independence Day to Remember

an American flag against the sky

Happy Independence Day!

This Friday, we as a country celebrate our history of political independence and our desire to govern ourselves as we see fit. In a way, the 4th of July is a foreshadowing of your personal independence day that is swiftly approaching—that is, the day you move in at WSU.

Clearly, independence is a wonderful thing—I love my independence and couldn’t move back into my parents’ house (Sorry, Mom & Dad!)—but you should be careful not fall into these traps and temptations that arise when you are given your much anticipated freedom.

1. You Don’t Have a Curfew

In college, there is no one to say you must be home on school nights by a certain time. You can stay out until 2am if you want to, or even say to hell with sleep and pull an all-nighter. However, a good night’s sleep—and moreover, a consistent sleep schedule– is important for your health. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your attention span, memory, mood, physical performance and even lead to obesity, diabetes and higher susceptibility to infections. Campus life is busy and, of course, you don’t want to miss a minute of the fun but do yourself a favor and get some sleep so you can fully enjoy it.

2. You Can Eat Whatever, Whenever

Without parents around, you can decide to eat pizza for breakfast, get ice cream for dessert every night and never let anything green touch your plate. But it’s important to get good nutrition and limit portion sizes –especially if you are hoping to avoid the Freshman 15. Step out of the line for burgers and fries once in a while and head over to the salad bar for a healthy alternative.

3. You Don’t Have to Go to Class

College, unlike K-12 education, isn’t a government requirement and no one will come after you for skipping classes. Some professors may take role every day and factor attendance into your grade, but others won’t. While skipping a class offers short term benefits–an extra hour of sleep, an early start to the weekend, avoiding a boring lecture—in the long term, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. There is a strong correlation between going to class and achieving a high grade. If you attend class regularly, you will understand the material better, can ask questions and get to know your professor which will help you make contacts and get letters of recommendation.

4. You Don’t Have to do Homework or Study

The same logic applies here: no one will make sure your homework gets done or that you study for exams. College classes may not have homework to turn in every day but they usually have hefty reading assignments and major papers or exams that can make or break your grade. And don’t think that you’ll be able to leave it all to the last minute—procrastination only leads to late night cram sessions that leave you with a half-assed attempt, a potentially passing grade and a weakened immune system. If you don’t do the required work as it is assigned, you’ll find yourself floundering in the class, a situation that definitely isn’t worth a 12 hour Netflix marathon or a weekend of partying with your friends.

5. You Don’t Have to Clean Your Room

Now that you’re out of your parents’ house, there is no one to complain if you never make your bed, drop clothes on the floor, let the trash pile up and forget what a vacuum looks like. This is especially true if you live in a single room. While cleaning and organizing you room does require some effort, it can help you feel more focused and less stressed as well as avoid any health code violations.

6. You Can Buy Whatever, Whenever

Up until now, your parents have probably had some say in how you spend your money, but once you turn 18, legally you are on your own. Your parents can’t access your bank accounts or track all your purchases. But this is not the time to get a giant tattoo or the latest Apple gadget—you should be saving your money for basic needs, school supplies and textbooks. You are also likely receiving credit card offers in the mail and all I can say is BE CAREFUL if you decide to get a credit card. It’s a good idea to start building credit early but on the other, but woe unto you if you use a line of credit irresponsibly as it can swiftly drag you down into the Pit of Despair—I mean, Debt. The WSU Financial Aid Office offers tools and information to help you manage your money.

This list may seem like a collection of juvenile excesses and since you’re adults now, you’re obviously past all that. Well, college offers you the chance to make your own choices but don’t let that freedom lead you to making poor decisions just because you don’t have any adult supervision. Yes, you are the adult now, and with that independence comes the responsibility to live with the consequences of the choices you make.

--Liz Meinders

Graduation: A Bittersweet Realization

View of campus from Garvin Heights

It might seem as though the summer is moving too slowly, but you’ll be arriving here soon enough.

This weekend wraps up the last of the high school graduations and I just want to say congratulations to all you 2014 graduates. Graduation is an achievement to be proud of and it adds a final push to the behind the momentum building up as you eagerly look forward to registration, move-in day and your first year of college. As a Facebook group admin, I’ve been seeing posts recently about how you wish it was August already, how you can’t wait to meet new people and begin your college careers. I remember writing those posts myself three years ago; I couldn’t wait to leave Marshfield behind and start fresh.

But amidst all the excitement, I want you to think about the other thing your high school graduation marks—that this is the last summer you will have in your hometown with all your friends. This will be the last summer where everyone you know is in the same place at the same time and you are all on the same page. After you start college, you and your friends will go to different cities, your winter and spring breaks may not overlap, you’ll each get a whole new group of friends whom your high school friends won’t know and a new set of experiences they won’t relate to.

You may be thinking, “But that’s during the semester. We’ll still have our summers and it will be just like before we left.” Maybe it will be like that for you—I hope it is—but, in my experience, it isn’t so simple. Summers are filled with jobs and internships and summer classes. Before you even realize it, all your days will be accounted for and a fun weekend get-away with your BFFs keeps getting rescheduled and pushed back from June to July and then to August as mine has this summer.

So take it from someone who knows how you feel but has a little more perspective– don’t wish the days away too quickly. You may feel like you are stuck idling in neutral when you really just want to floor it but take the time to cruise around your hometown. Take in the sights, sounds, smells you’ve experienced these last 18 years because soon enough you won’t have their comforting familiarity. The same goes for your friends. Take time to see your friends, laugh and play and enjoy their company as much as you can because come fall, you won’t be seeing their faces every day in the hallways or across the lunch table. I admit it is a bittersweet realization, but an important one nonetheless, as you still have the time to make this a summer full of memories you will always remember.

–Liz Meinders

A Farewell to WSU

Sophie and a few of the friends she's met at WSU.

It’s not over ’til it’s over!

The last few days I’ve spent on campus have been strange. People have been stopping me in the halls and on the streets to say “Don’t worry, we’ll stay in touch!” or “I’m really gonna miss you when you go!” I respond in kind and tell them my plans, but all the while I’m thinking “I’m not really going anywhere, am I?” Though I know logically that they’re right, it just doesn’t feel real.

This coming Friday I’m going to become a college graduate.

I’ve loved my time here at Winona State. I’ve met incredible friends, traveled to some amazing places and somehow managed to do some learning in my free-time. It’s strange to think that I’m going to have to move on from this place that has been my home for four (incredibly busy) years. When I think of the next year I still picture myself here, sitting on the couches on 3rd floor Minne and looking down over the campus that has given me so much. I picture myself standing and waving frantically to my friends down below who either wave back or duck their heads in embarrassment (much to my delight.)  I picture myself waking up early so I can walk to campus in the fog and join some friends at Mugby for brunch. And I picture myself making stupid jokes to my professors who roll their eyes but secretly think I’m hilarious (seriously, I’m sure they totally do).

But I know that when the summer starts in a week there will be a flurry of activity, a lot of goodbyes that don’t feel quite real and then silence.  That silence, that unknown future is what frightens me the most. However, at the same time, I feel as though I’ve done everything I can to be ready for the future. I’ve started applying to jobs and I know that in a few years I’m going back to school to get my masters in library science.  I know I’m capable, and I’m confident in my ability to succeed, but I also know that before anything else it’s gonna be lonely.

So here’s my message to the people I love here, both the ones staying and my fellow graduates who are all heading in different directions; It ain’t over till it’s over. This isn’t goodbye; it’s just see you later. You’ll always be with me and yada yada every other cliché in the book.  But hey, even if the words are old the sentiment is real.

I’ll see you guys on the other side. And thanks WSU. It’s been a wild ride.

–Sophie Kaplan

An Adventure Abroad

A map of a bike route through northern Spain

This is the route through Spain that I will be biking in just a few weeks!


On a normal day last semester, I was sitting next to my friend in Spanish class. But then my professor came in to the room and told us about an incredible travel study opportunity he was offering called the Camino De Santiago, a bike trip across the northern region of Spain. As avid bikers, my friend and I were blown away. We were dumbfounded by even the possibility of participating in an opportunity like this. Moments after the professor finished his presentation and began class, she looked over to me and said “Do you want to bike across Spain with me?”  I responded with the only words that could come to someone’s mind after hearing a question like that, “Oh, hell yeah!”

I would be lying, however, if I said I had no anxieties. I made every dreaded “yeah, but” excuse in the books about why I should not go on this trip

  • Yeah, but…can I afford it?
  • Yeah, but…what will my boss say?
  • Yeah, but…what will my parents think?

Watch out for the “yeah, but” excuses; they have an incredible power to consume you. These kinds of excuses continued to run through my head until one day it hit me: SO WHAT?

Folks, we are young! We’re in college, a time of independence and freedom. It is now when we have this freedom and independence that we should go out and explore the world. We have a golden opportunity to go and expand our horizons, experience new cultures, make new friends and have an adventure. If I kept making excuses and had not chosen to go on the trip, the only “yeah, but” that would have remained with me would be “Yeah, but what if I had gone?”

Winona State has an incredible study abroad program for those of you who are interested in getting out and seeing the world. You can choose to spend a summer abroad, a semester abroad, or even an entire year out of the country. These experiences are open to a wide variety of majors and are always willing to accommodate for students. For those of you who cannot commit the time for a full study abroad experience, the school also offers travel study trips. These programs are typically shorter trips that range from a week up to a whole month, and they are usually offered during winter and summer breaks. In addition, these travel studies count for course credit and are a great way to cover an unfilled general education goal.

Ok, now I may call them excuses, but many questions of finances and time commitments are strong and very valid concerns. The International Programs Office is located on the first floor of Maxwell, and they are open and always willing to answer questions for worried students.

Stop in and say hello–you won’t regret it.

–Caleb Bednarski

25 More Things to Do Before You Graduate

graduates listen to the commencement speaker

Don’t regret a single moment as you walk across the stage to receive your diploma

Building on my post last week, here are 25 more things that I believe students should do before graduating from WSU.

  1. Eat out at the Lakeview Drive Inn and Penguin Zesto
  2. Have a bo​nfire at Latsch Beach
  3. Jump in the Windom Park fountain. A must do on your graduation day!
  4. Go stargazing in the bluffs.
  5. Become involved and run for a leadership position within a club or organization that interests you
  6. Take a walk down to Levee Park
  7. Go tubing down Root River in Lanesboro, MN
  8. Eat a Bubs Burger
  9. Sit down with a professor and REALLY get to know them
  10. Go to Goodview beach for the day
  11. Take a class that is irrelevant to your major
  12. Attend a THAD performance
  13. Go on at least one spring break trip. You and your friend’s future work schedules will never probably line up making a weeklong trip next to impossible.
  14. Explore Winona’s surrounding areas (Wabasha, Lanesboro, La Crosse, etc.) Check out the blog posts 30 Minutes to Adventure and 60 Minutes to Adventure for some ideas.
  15. Get a picture with the “Winona State University” sign outside Sheehan
  16. Go to one Midwest Music Fest performance
  17. Go to Wing Night at ZaZa’s
  18. Attend the $3 movie night (ONLY $3!) I promise you will NEVER find $3 movie tickets ever again.
  19. Take a nap in the Kryzsko Solarium
  20. Study abroad or participate in a travel study. Not only will you get to see the world but also you will make friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
  21. Pull a team together and take part in a university sponsored charity event such as Relay for Life or Up Till Dawn
  22. Really get to know an international student. You can learn so much about a different culture by just talking with them.
  23. Get coffee with the one person you keep meaning to get in touch with
  24. Volunteer with a Winona non-profit organization
  25. Now, once you have completed around 95% of this list, graduate :)

Most of the items on these to-do lists come down to a few key pieces of advice: take advantage of everything Winona State University has to offer, become involved, step outside your comfort zone, do something out of the ordinary and, most importantly, don’t regret a single minute of it. I hope you all embrace every moment of your college experience. I know I did, and I wouldn’t change a thing!​

–Katlyn Plourde

(Study) Location, Location, Location

a collage of study locations on WSU campus

WSU has a variety of locations for all your studying needs!

I hate to bring it up guys, but the end of the semester is quickly approaching. For some of us (myself included) this means graduation is just on the horizon, and for others it means that you’re on the cusp of surviving another semester. Either way, go you! Unfortunately, whether you’re a freshman or final-semester senior we all have to jump that notorious final hurdle before we’re home free to frolic in the summer air.

You guessed it–finals.

As exams are next week, now is the perfect time to perfect your study techniques. Speaking from experience, it’s endlessly helpful to know in advance what works best for you. And by techniques I’m not just talking about flash cards vs. mnemonic devices. It’s a great idea to figure out where you study the best and what environment works best for your studying style. When everyone is buckling down this week you don’t want to scramble for a quiet nook only to discover that the scratch of pencils on paper or clack of keyboards echoing in the silence is actually more distracting than your roommate’s dog’s barking. It’s hard to know what works best for you unless you actually try a few options; luckily for us, WSU offers a lot of possible locations. Here are a few suggestions for those of you that are figuring out your favorites for the first time, or for people just looking for some alternate ideas.

Option 1: Your Room

Okay this one doesn’t seem all that creative, but sometimes the familiarity and comfort inherent in your own space lends itself to a great study atmosphere. You can curl up in your comforter with a cup of tea and review your notes in bed or read aloud without getting dirty looks. In fact, feel free to read in a funny accent. No one’s listening, anyway! However, one drawback here is that it can be easy to let yourself get distracted. As long as you know you can resist the urge to give in and nap then this is a great option.

Option 2: Designated Quiet Spaces

This include the second and third floors of the library specifically. This is for those of you that need it quiet and appreciate some good old fashioned stress-empathy.  Nearly everyone in these spaces is there to get their work done and get it done well. It’s easy to stay on task when everyone around you is working equally hard and the upper library floors have a sense of camaraderie that’s difficult to emulate in other spaces. A word to the wise: if you have a persistent cough you may want to shy away.  You’ve never experienced true malice until a senior nursing student stares you down across the room with flashcards in her hands and a gaze that could refreeze the bluffs.

Option 3: Semi-Social Study Sites

This includes the first floor of the library, reserved study rooms and low-traffic parts of Kryzsko. These areas are generally filled with people studying, but for the most part include a social aspect that is lacking from the first two options in this list. These semi-social study areas are great for group study, discussion and general woe-sharing. If you know that you get burned out just studying non-stop for hours then set yourself up in a place where you might bump into people. Give yourself a little reprieve or study with friends. For some, the low buzz of conversation is often comforting static that helps with anxieties. These areas are a great way to be productive while staying connected.

Option 4: The Social Butterfly’s Study Nests

This would include areas like Mugby Junction, the Smaug or the Jack Kane Dining Center. This is for the social studiers who like lively conversation about their class topics or debates over essay questions. The noise level at all of these places is generally higher than the other categories, and they all feature the additional bonus of providing food! If you know that talking out your final presentation or trying to explain a difficult problem to a friend is the most effective way for you to remember things then these locations might be for you.  Also at Mugby, you actually have the opportunity to step off campus for a little bit. While it’s still close by, that bit of distance may be enough to clear your head.

Wherever you choose to study, maybe you’ll discover a new atmosphere that helps you retain information and compose prose like never before!

–Sophie Kaplan

Mid West Music Fest Returns

banner for Mid West Music Fest 2014

If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, check out Mid West Music Fest!

As spring blossoms and the bluffs surrounding our island city grow greener and greener each day, as the river and lakes melt back into flowing, playful waters and as the people of Winona start venturing out of winter’s hibernation, springtime in the city of Winona grows lively. For Winona, springtime means regaining its active, buzzing population, as cyclists, longboarders, strollers and runners fill the streets. Springtime in Winona not only basks in new-found warmth and sunshine, but also in music and art. For three days every April for the last five years, Winona has enthusiastically welcomed spring with its annual (and quickly growing) Mid West Music Fest.

Mid West Music Fest, which this year occurs April 24-26, is a community-wide festival, including over sixty regional performing artists strewn across thirteen different stages throughout Winona; as well as musician’s workshops, organized dances and the delicious food of community vendors. This is the festival’s fifth year to energize Winona, and it continues to grow in its scope of musicians and audiences alike.

Returning headliner, Caroline Smith is coming back to Winona, full force. Hot on the last leg of her national tour, Caroline Smith will enchant Winonans with another high-energy, deeply soulful, and unapologetically sassy musical experience. Smith, who frequently performs in Winona, is enthusiastic about returning to Mid West Music Fest, saying it has “more energy” with its “community and pride,” compared to larger festivals that she’s played at. It is by no mistake that Mid West Music Fest’s smaller venues create a more intimate and unified festival-going experience. She says Winonans have “overwhelming love and energy,” when she comes to play, which translates into a powerful, positive energy shared by all. “We like to sound good and be good energy leaders,” she says, speaking about how much she enjoys performing music from their new album.

Caroline Smith has shifted her sound from indie-rock featured on her Little Wind album (2011), to a nostalgic 90’s Neo-Ladysoul in her Half About Being a Woman album (2013). The new album channels smooth and heartfelt lyrics, with themes of self-acceptance and self-empowerment which manifest into feel-good music for both men and women. “It has kind of become an album of female empowerment, but I love seeing [that] the guys really get into it,” she says of the reception she has gotten from her enthusiastic fans. As a Minnesota native, Smith enjoys playing for her fellow Minnesotans–never disappointing–always ensuring to give them everything she’s got.

Other must-see regional acts include the bluesy folkster, Charlie Parr, hailing from Duluth, who was featured in a documentary film this past winter at Winona’s 2014 Frozen River Film Festival.  Mid West Music Fest will also be featuring student and alumni artists from Winona State University, represented in bands Gravy Train, Jaybone Bell & The Restless Light, Jake Illika & The Heavy Set (their new EP has a heartfelt, upbeat song, “Minnesota Homegrown,” about living in Winona, paying homage to the great Mississippi) The Old Fashioneds, and The Ditchrunners, to name a few. One very valued aspect about MWMF is that the festival allows WSU students an outlet to showcase their talent and perform for a large array of audience members from near and far to enjoy.

Thoroughly organized, the fest promotes local and regional community business, vendors, artists, of which students have learned to take advantage. Students at WSU have several opportunities to win tickets, as well as options to volunteer in exchange for tickets. With over sixty bands on thirteen stages around historical Winona, to polka and barn dances, to musicians’ workshops, and film showings, Mid West Music Fest ensures that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether it is the soulful, cool, spunky energy of Caroline Smith, the bluesy, folksy authenticity of Charlie Parr, or the twang and feverish energy of Jaybone Bell & The Restless Light, all Winonans can find some music that they can genuinely connect with.

Caroline Smith plays at the Historical Masonic Temple (5th and Main) at 9:30pm on Friday, April 25. You can check out the festival’s full schedule, sponsors, descriptions of the bands and buy tickets here​.

–Courtney McCaw

Caroline Smith sings on stage

This photo of Caroline Smith was borrowed from her Facebook page, which you should totally go check out :)