WestFest gathers university and surrounding community for end-of-summer celebration

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Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Saige Batza

Franco’s Fried Dough-Licious food truck at WestFest, West Haven, Sept. 3, 2022

Saige Batza, Arts & Life Editor

On Sept. 3, the University of New Haven’s Mayor’s Advisory Commission hosted WestFest, an annual festival that was held in Old Grove Park this year.

The event is designed to unite the university community with the West Haven community for an end-of-summer celebration with live entertainment, games, food trucks and inflatables. Additionally, the festival is organized to raise money for the West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce, which is a local food pantry.

As the tables were set up and students greeted each other, Sonja Denyse, a local DJ started to play a selection of lively, upbeat music that set the tone for the rest of the event. Food trucks lined the street as the sweet aroma of fried dough filled the air. Throughout the event, West Haven residents and university students gathered to visit old friends and make new ones. University Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) also hosted designated tables to advertise their organizations and recruit new members of the campus community.

Chi Kappa Rho, a Panhellenic sorority, was one of several organizations that tabled at the event. Molly Guillemin, a junior forensic science major and Treasurer of Chi Kappa Rho, said that she hopes the organization has a big turnout during the fall recruitment process for greek life. She said, “[My hope] is that our passions are shown as really what they are to bring more sisterhood into the community.”

Ian Sacci, a junior sports management major and business manager of the radio station WNHU, said he enjoyed the atmosphere at WestFest. Sacci provided a few tips for students who may be interested in joining WNHU. He said, “The biggest reason why people could be hesitant about joining the radio station is ‘Oh, I have to be really into music,’ or ‘I have to be a music industry major,’ and that’s far from the truth.”

Sacci encourages students of all classes and majors to join the organization. “I’m a sports management major and I’m a part of the radio station. We have a communication major as our station manager.” Sacci emphasized that the WNHU community is welcoming and inclusive for students of all majors.

Also in attendance was West Haven High School’s Theatre Workshop, advertising their upcoming fall productions of “Grease” and “You Can’t Take It With You.” Cyehenne Sebas, a student working the Theatre Workshop at the high school, said that the university and surrounding local community can help spread the word about upcoming shows by posting flyers and encouraging attendance at their shows. Sebas said, “Putting up flyers is always nice and just posting on social media, we have Instagram and Facebook accounts.” Students and faculty of the West Haven High School continued to circle the event and pass out flyers about their upcoming shows this fall.

Those in attendance were also treated to live music from a variety of bands, including Midnight Boutique, Joe Neumann and the Big Beat and Absofunkinlutely. West Haven’s Mulkerin School of Irish Dance also had a performance, which incorporated members of the audience to join in the performance. The crowd also heard from a panel of speakers, including West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Shaily Menon on the local issue of food insecurity in the area.

More information about university and local organizations can be found on Charger Connection.