Characters from the video game Super Smash Bros. dodge and dip to catch a gliding Frisbee out of mid-air. On the sideline a Luigi character shouts at his teammates in a fake Italian accent, while a team full of Where’s Waldo characters wait for burgers to get off the grill in the pavilion.
The 17th annual Hallowinona tournament let ultimate Frisbee players from Wisconsin to Canada express themselves for Halloween while enjoying friendly competition and free food.
Over 50 teams attended the tournament, which spanned over 22 fields across Winona. What separates this tournament from many other organized Frisbee events, however, is the “dress code”.
“It’s definitely more about having fun than the competition side,” senior and five-year WSU ultimate player Steve Piazza said.
The tournament keeps players for the WSU Experience and WSU Inexperience teams busy, as they handle the entire running of the tournament themselves. Players for the club sport need to be organized to make sure food is paid for and prepared, merchandise for the tournament -which includes Frisbees and shirts with the year and name of the tournament- is purchased and ready to sell, fields are marked and costumes are ready. This year the teams decided on the theme Super Smash Bros., the popular Nintendo video game franchise.
“This is some team’s only tournament of the year,” Hermes said. “The costumes keep it laid back and every team pretty much goes all out.”
But the costumes are for more than just the tournament, many of these teams are from colleges and are missing Halloween weekend at their schools. The Experience tries making the nightlife worth the trip, if the players are of age. Each year The Experience rents out a venue to have a party in which all team members 21 and older are invited. Live bands and cheap beer serve as the main attraction. This year, the Experience rented out the Big River Room and paid for shuttles to bring people from their hotels to the venue and back.
“It’s the reason people come to Hallowinona,” senior WSU player Paul Ogrinc said.
“For the party,”
Despite the free food and casual atmosphere provided by Hallowinona, there is a business side to the tournament. WSU grants the team $4,500 a year, which Hermes said is “more than most other schools get.”
Tournament fees, gas and hotel fees add up, however, and in order to partake in all the events they want to, the Experience needs to make a profit on a tournament where they pay to feed the participants and to entertain them at night. 52 teams make an entry fee of $200 for college teams and $250 for club teams along with t-shirt and Frisbee sales make for a very profitable weekend for the team, allowing them to enter in multiple tournaments throughout the year.
“This tournament is about having fun and meeting people,” senior WSU captain Lukas Gotto said. “Regardless of what I’m doing I have a great time.”
Not all teams are as are as fortunate to travel as much as Winona State’s, however, so they make sure this tournament counts.
“It’s a fun atmosphere,” St. Thomas player Steven Bequette said. “Everyone’s here to have a good time.”