A nationally lauded music curator, Kate Nordstrum was a provocative hire by the Great Northern winter festival last December. She sees opportunity to turn the annual event into a national draw—a South by Southwest of the North, mixing pond hockey and ice carvings with performance art and conversations about climate change. As it happens, her first festival at the helm, January 28 to February 7, will be focused on limiting crowds (outdoors, masks required) and creating virtual alternatives for events that would have been indoors. “This year is a wonderful opportunity to share the direction we’re headed,” Nordstrum says. “I see the Great Northern as a necessary cultural stimulant during a weakened time.” Her vision has already drawn financial support from Nature Valley (a General Mills brand), U.S. Bank, and the McKnight Foundation.