City’s newest tradition fosters better relations
This weekend, the City of West Haven and the University of New Haven co-sponsor WestFest, a celebration of the community in general, and the specific relationship between the university and the city. Fostered by the Mayor’s Advisory Commission and has become something of a new tradition in town.
The free event is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 8 on the Green. The rain date is Sept. 9.
WestFest is co-sponsored by the UNH Mayor’s Advisory Commission, UNH, Watson Inc., Casa Bianca Pizza, Notre Dame High School of West Haven, Wells Fargo and USAlliance Financial.
Festival proceeds will benefit the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force, West Haven’s food pantry. Watson and WHEAT will hold a food drive during the event. People are asked to bring non-perishable items. This list of sponsors, and the community-driven effort to help the city’s needy provide a look into how this festival is just a bit different from the many that run during the year.
It is a full day of events. WestFest is again collaborating with the 5K Unity Run, sponsored by the UNH cross-country and track teams. The 10 a.m. run will start and finish at Maxcy Hall on the university’s main campus, 300 Boston Post Road. After the run, transportation will be provided to WestFest on the Green, where attendees can participate in the 5K Unity Run’s powdered paint party and enjoy the family-friendly festivities.
Food trucks from Cappetta’s Italian Imports & Pizza, Louise’s Homemade Food & Baked Goods, The Colombian Hot Dog and Ted’s Steamed Burgers will serve up local dishes. Other participating businesses will include Watson, WHEAT, crafters, high school clubs, a face painter and a henna artist.
All-day entertainment will showcase live music by local bands, such as The Cobalt Rhythm Kings, Arcadia and Him or Her. There will also be the traditional WestFest pie-eating contest, sponsored by Louise’s, as well as a dunk tank where attendees can dunk state Reps. Michael A. DiMassa and Dorinda Borer,, and Councilman Sean P. Ronan (D-9), along with UNH professors and members of the university’s Undergraduate Student Government Association’s executive board.
Many UNH clubs and organizations, including fraternities, sororities, international groups and club sports, will take part in the seven-hour event, highlighting their community involvement efforts. And what is a festival without t-shirts. Official festival shirts will be available for purchase.
WestFest, open to the public, will offer free on-street parking around the Green and on Campbell Avenue, as well as in municipal lots off Main Street, Savin Avenue and Curtiss Place. In other words, get out and enjoy the relationship between the university and the city. Meet the students, learn what they are about. There is more there than just young people slumming in town until school is over.
Much should be said about the three-year-old Mayor’s Advisory Commission. It is a collaborative, student-driven task force formed in early 2015 to strengthen the relationship between the UNH and West Haven communities. The MAC is led by Chairman Marcin Stankevitch, a junior political science major, and adviser Chris Haynes, assistant professor of political science.
Over the years, the MAC has provided comprehensive studies for city leaders to use as references, and offers a different and fresh perspective on some of the problems facing the municipality. It is something to be cheered and supported.
The point is the relationship between the university and city has not always been as positive as it now stands. Many remember that UNH students knew nothing of their host city, except maybe the infamous “Campbell Avenue Crawl” up and down the various bars that one can find. That has changed, and all for the better.
WestFest is an opportunity for both the students and the residents to get to know each other. It is a welcome change.