Looking at WestFest 2016

Ben Atwater

Last year, the inaugural WestFest occurred. A festival on the West Haven Green, WestFest featured dozens of local businesses, crafters, and artists. Also, present were over 30 University of New Haven’s clubs and organizations.  Put on by the Mayor’s Advisory Commission (MAC), WestFest aims to bridge the gap between the communities of West Haven and UNH.

MAC was formed in 2015 under the Political Science department. Advised by Dr. Chris Haynes, the group has been crucial in coordinating many efforts since its foundation. While WestFest is certainly the largest endeavor taken on by MAC, other activities involve surveying the population to offer advice to the mayor, participating in local community service, and even drafting a newsletter, The Westie Wire.  

This year, MAC’s intentions are to improve upon WestFest from last year while keeping all of the successful elements of last year. A successful example could be seen through last year’s there was a pie eating contest, which contestants could try to beat their fellow Westies at guzzling pie from the local Louise’s Bakery down there throat. This competition will be taking place again, and MAC is preparing for even more contestants.

Also, successful at last year’s WestFest was a dunk tank, which city officials, the USGA executive board, and select UNH professors were the lucky enough to sit on the chair. This will be happening again, with the lineup including the USGA e-board as well as Mayor Ed O’Brien and many of his staff. Professor Niko Poplawski from the physics department is going to have an appearance in the dunk tank, too.

WestFest attracts dozens of food trucks that serve all sorts of cuisine from Italian to Chinese to southern barbeque. From all different restaurants across West Haven, these food trucks will be a must-stop for any foodie looking for different cuisine.  

Many different inflatables have been rented, which will be mostly for kids, though college students are welcome, too. Admission will be charged for inflatables, yet all proceeds will go to MAC to continue putting on events like WestFest.  

On the UNH side, over 40 RSO’s from prominent Greek organizations to the Rotoract Club will be staffing booths, providing activities for the community as well as an outlet to promote their agenda that the respective organization is founded upon.  For instance, Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) will have a trivia wheel with questions to test knowledge, as ALD is the First Year Honor Society and values broad intelligence as well as community engagement.

Asides from offering a great event for UNH and West Haven, WestFest represents the efforts of hundreds of hours of work by MAC members, many of whom spent their entire summer at school planning WestFest.  

Political Science major Connor Vargo says, “the event does not come together overnight. Running around between city hall and the dozens of businesses was hectic to say the least, but in the end, we will get to see the fruits of our labor by putting on a successful event.”

MAC members regularly correspond with city hall employees in their work, offering invaluable insight into future career fields for many of the members.

MAC advisor Dr. Haynes commented, “This program (MAC) is a unique opportunity for students to learn how to work efficiently in a real world environment while providing a service to the community at the same time. I am incredibly impressed with how far MAC has come since its inception only a year and a half ago.”

WestFest will be held this coming Saturday, September 10th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the West Haven Green.  Parking on the surrounding streets will be available, and shuttles will be departing from Maxcy Hall every half hour throughout the day.