Student-Organized WestFest Celebration to Support West Haven Food Pantry

WestFest Celebration

Growing up an hour away from campus, Connor Vargo ’18, a political science major, concedes that when he arrived at the University of New Haven three years ago he didn’t really understand what the city of West Haven had to offer.

“I didn’t know what West Haven was all about or what businesses were here,” he said. “Some other students probably felt the same way.”

His mindset changed when he got involved in the planning of WestFest, a program created in 2015 to celebrate the partnership between the University and its host city. This year, he is chairing the planning the committee for the third annual event that will take place on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the West Haven Green in the city’s historic district.

I really think WestFest is important for the City and the University because it gives students and community members the chance to see what the other truly has to offer.

– Connor Vargo ’18, Political Science Major

The event, which is organized by the University’s Mayor’s Advisory Commission, a student-run group that works closely with West Haven Mayor Ed O’Brien and his administration, will feature live entertainment, food trucks, a pie-eating contest, dunk tank, hot-shot contest, inflatables, tug of war, and dozens of local businesses and student organizations.

The morning of the event at 10 a.m., the University’s Department of Athletics will host its second annual Unity Run, which will begin and end at Maxcy Hall. Transportation will be provided to WestFest following the run.

A portion of the proceeds from WestFest will support the West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce and its food pantry, which has been assisting city residents for 45 years.

“Everyone can come out and enjoy themselves while also giving back to the community,” said Vargo.

President Kaplan says WestFest is an example of the strong partnership between the University of New Haven and the city of West Haven. “We are honored to call West Haven home, and we are proud to be a part of this welcoming and resourceful community,” he said.

“WestFest embodies our diverse, vibrant campus community and our commitment to providing a purposeful education that takes our students beyond the classroom,” he continued. “By helping to plan WestFest, our students learn the value of becoming engaged community members. The reward we see each year is the sense of pride they develop in the city of West Haven, a place that quickly becomes their second home.”