The weekend that West Hartford residents have been waiting for is here. Saturday and Sunday, Celebrate West Hartford will take place on the grounds of . Bigger and better than ever, this year marks the 25th Anniversary of the eagerly anticipated event that truly engages everyone in the West Hartford community.
According to coordinator Helen Rubino-Turco, Celebrate West Hartford has attracted more than 25,000 people in recent years. It is an opportunity for businesses, civic and service organizations, recreation groups, and charitable foundations to increase public awareness of their important work.
There are also plenty of activities for the entire family to enjoy – including an extensive juried arts & crafts show, food, entertainment, games, and rides. There is a certified 5K road race on Sunday.
There is no admission charge for the event and many of the activities are free. According to Rubino-Turco, entertainment on Saturday includes performances by numerous local school jazz ensembles. NRBQ’s Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet headlines Sunday afternoon’s music schedule.
The long-term success of the event is a result of the hard work of volunteers, and its consistent mission of bringing together members of the community to celebrate the great things about West Hartford.
Rubino-Turco also praised the event chairman. "Angelo Faenza, who has chaired this event for more than 20 years, is largely responsible for the growth and continued success of Celebrate West Hartford. He and numerous committee members over the years have poured their hearts and souls into this community celebration. They deserve a lot of credit for making West Hartford's signature event happen every year."
According to a news release, this year's food vendors include local restaurants such as Rizzuto’s, , , California Pizza Kitchen, and , as well as markets, such as , and newcomers and Via Del Gusto. Festival favorites include hamburgers and hotdogs served up by the West Hartford Rotary and ice cream from .
The Celebrate West Hartford certified 5K Road Race kicks off on Sunday, June 12 at 9:30 a.m. on Raymond Road. Race Chairman Mike Alquist said in the release that he enjoys the community aspect of the race because “I see so many people from around town who never miss this race.”
Race registration is available at on Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon, or Sunday morning beginning at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Whole Foods on Raymond Road.
A Kids Fun Run will also take place in for children 10 and under, prior to the start of the 5K. This is the third year for the Fun Run, which measures about a third of a mile according to Kids Fun Run coordinator Marisa Mascolo. "It is so fun to see these eager beavers try to beat our race leader," Mascolo said in the release.
According to the release, parents may accompany their young children in the Fun Run if necessary, but most participants run the course on their own. Each finisher receives a medal, and Whole Foods Market has a special reception for the children in their parking lot after the fun run. Parents can register their children the morning of the fun run at Whole Foods Market beginning at 8 a.m. The cost is $5 per child.
There were several other projects which helped kick off the 25th anniversary of Celebrate West Hartford. These include a retrospective created about the event by West Hartford Community Television.
The West Hartford Art League organized a in the Town Hall Lobby which featured 25 artworks focusing on West Hartford’s neighborhoods. The Community group "Hello! West Hartford," which will also have an exhibit booth, researched the top 25 foreign languages spoken in homes all across town, and presented a Language/Culture of the Day on the event’s website. Their signs – saying “hello” and “welcome” in each language – will be on display at Celebrate West Hartford.
According to the release, Celebrate West Hartford recently garnered the top prize as Best Local Annual Event by Hartford Magazine for the second year running. Because Celebrate West Hartford is a non-profit, self-sustaining event, it relies on business sponsorships to help offset the expenses. Major sponsors this year include Mohegan Sun, Whole Foods Market, Simons Real Estate, AT&T, RE/MAX, Silverleaf Resorts, Dunkin Donuts and Westfarms Mall.
For more information, visit www.celebratewesthartford.com or call 860-561-7512.