What is a HackFest?

Come be a part of the first HackFest in the Northwoods. $1000 prize to the top team.

A hackfest is a fast-paced event where teams of creatives, coders, programmers, designers, marketers, and alike compete to design and build a technological solution to a perceived problem or need.  Teams may use any technological platform of their choosing within the computer programming arena.

This is a team competition consisting of 3 to 5 individuals per team. You may register as a team or an individual.  Individuals will be assigned to a team Friday evening or Saturday morning of the event.  The day of the event the teams will be given the task for the competition.  All brainstorming, information gathering, designing, and developing will take place within the allotted timeframe.  Teams will present their concepts to a judging panel.

Entry fee is $20 per team or $10 per individual. Registration closes on March 29.

DATE: April 7 & 8, 2017
LOCATION: At the LaunchPad in the historic Mayflower building
102 1st Street West, Bemidji, MN 56601
Map  |  www.launchpadbemidji.com

Who should participate in the HackFest?

Individuals with skills, experience, and interest in any of the following areas:

  • Web development
  • App development
  • Graphic design
  • Storytelling

  • Creativity and problem solving
  • Leadership and project management
  • Marketing
  • Public speaking

Participants should bring their own laptops with pertinent software for idea development.


Friday, April 7

Youth Game Design Challenge

Students, grades 6 through 12, are invited to learn the basics of game development and then put their new skills to the test in a friendly competition.  During the event students will have the opportunity to explore various exhibits Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality, 3D printing, robotics, and more.

Cost per student is $5. All equipment/computers are provided.
Registration is limited to 20 students, so don’t wait – Sign-up today!

4:00 – 6:00 pm – Game Design Skill Lab

6:00 – 9:00 pm – Game Design Challenge

9:00 pm  – Judging

Saturday, April 8


Friday, April 7

7:00 pm – HackFest Registration, Create Teams, Start Working & Social

Saturday, April 8

8:00- 8:30 am – Last minute registrations and team match-ups

8:30 – 4:30 – HackFest

4:30- 6:00 – Judging and announcement of awards

Hotel Information

Country Inn & Suites
927 Lakeshore Drive NE
Bemidji, MN 56601
View Website

A block of rooms have been reserved for True North HackFest participants at the Country Inn & Suites on the South Shore of Lake Bemidji attached to the Sanford Events Center, which is within 2 miles of the Mayflower building.

Special room rate is $115 for a Double Bed Room for April 7th and guests may receive this same rate for an additional nights stay, if requested. If a King Room is needed, please contact Tiffany at LaunchPad to arrange (218) 444-5758.

Book your room by March 7th to be guaranteed this special rate.

For other lodging options, please visit Visit Bemidji’s website.


Who can participate?

We welcome any students, young adults and technology enthusiasts! You don’t have to be in a computer-related major or even an engineering student. You aren’t required to have ever attended a hackfest before. You can come with a team, or create a team the day of the event. If you are hacking alone and want to find a team, we will help you find other participants to pair with.

What if I’m new to Hackfests?

True North HackFest has great opportunities for people that are new to programming. In fact, we encourage new programmers to come because hackfests provide an opportunity to gain experience. As a new programmer at True North HackFest, you will learn a lot in a short amount of time, be challenged, and build something awesome.

What if I’m not a hacker?

Programming not your thing? That’s fine! We encourage graphic designers, marketers, project managers, creative thinkers and problem solvers to participate in True North HackFest. The best teams have members with a variety of skillsets. Don’t want to hack? You can help by sponsoring the event. You can also spread the word about this event to students, friends, and media.

Is there a place to sleep?

Yes, we have made available blocks of hotel rooms, but space is limited and on a first-come-first-serve basis.

What should I bring?

Laptop, cellphone, chargers.

How many people can be on a team?

We recommend working in teams of 3-5 people.

Do I need a team to sign up?

Nope! Although you can sign up with teammates, you can also sign up as an individual. We will have sessions Friday night and Saturday morning to help people find team members. So you should sign up regardless!

Will there be food?

Yes. The only thing you need to worry about is coding; let us take care of the rest. Pastries, pizza, beverages, and snacks will be provided throughout the competition at no cost to participants.

Can I start working before True North HackFest Starts?

No, participants are not allowed to work on their apps before the 24-hour period. If you want to prepare for the hackfest, focus on gaining experience with and knowledge of the tools you hope to use to build your project.

How does judging work?

Teams will demo their solution to a panel of judges, who will deliberate on their favorite submissions to choose the winners. Judging will be based on criteria of creativity, usefulness, technical difficulty, and form. The top prize is $1,000 to the winning team.

Is there a registration deadline?

The online registration deadline is March 29th. We expect this event to fill-up, so register early. We do not expect to have on-site registration available.

Questions? Contact Karen White

Northwest Minnesota Foundation
Phone (218) 759.2057


Blandin Foundation Northwest Minnesota Foundation


Evolve Creative Paul Bunyan Communications