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Noah Webster Backpack Bash: Restaurant and Beverage Tasting to Help Local Students

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The inaugural Noah Webster Backpack Bash will combine food and drink sampling for all who bring a backpack as a donation.

By Ronni Newton

There are many West Hartford students who need backpacks before the start of the next school year, and organizers of the Noah Webster Backpack Bash are hopeful that their upcoming event will make a major dent in that need while also providing food and fun for the entire family.

“We had just talked about ideas for a back-to-school event at a FLOW [Future Leaders of West Hartford] meeting, but we didn’t think we could get something pulled together in time,” said Ryan Keating of Keating Agency Insurance, who currently leads the young professionals group he launched with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce earlier this year.

That discussion coincided with a conversation he had with Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society Development Manager Amy Boulton, about ways of working with both FLOW and Keating Agency.

“I had just read a recent We-Ha.com article on the need for backpacks and the lightbulb went off. Why not bring backpacks to the Noah Webster House and create a family-friendly back-to-school social?” Keating said.

Thanks to a group of partners that were willing to step up and pull the event together in a very short timeframe, the inaugural Noah Webster Backpack Bash will be held on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, from 6-8 p.m. at the Noah Webster House, 227 South Main St. in West Hartford. In addition to Keating Agency Insurance, WHsquared, Maximum Beverage, Eat IN Connecticut, and Connecticut Kids & Family are sponsoring the event.

Everyone is excited that plans for the event were able to come together, including Boulton who said that there’s a natural synergy holding it at the birthplace of Founding Father Noah Webster.

“Not many people know that Noah Webster had a career as a school teacher,” Boulton said in a statement. “It was that experience that led Webster to write the Blue-backed Speller, the best-selling schoolbook in America through the mid-19th century.”

For the admission price of a new backpack, guests will enjoy food tastings from local restaurants and chefs including Black Bamboo, David Alan Catering, Lindsay Culinary, Noble & Co., The Rockin’ Chicken, and Seoul BBQ & Sushi. Maximum Beverage will provide beer and wine tasting. There will be live music courtesy of Band2, as well as a play area for kids, raffle prizes, and more at the family-friendly event.

Larger backpacks for middle and high school students are particularly needed. All backpacks will be donated to the Town That Cares Fund, which has a backpack distribution event planned for Aug. 22.

In lieu of a backpack donation, the entrance fee is $20 for adults in advance ($25 at the door) and $10 for kids 8 and up. Admission is free for children 7 and under. Monetary donations will support The Town That Cares as well as the educational mission of the Noah Webster House, which provides quality, hands-on educational experiences to 5,500 students annually, 20 percent of whom are attending from underserved schools at no charge. 

Tickets are available online at noahwebster.yapsody.com. Guests – including those who are donating a backpack for admission – are encouraged to pre-register and as space is limited.

“I took for granted as a child, going back to school shopping with my family and I always looked forward to starting a new school year with new clothes and new school supplies,” Keating said. There are many students in West Hartford who do not have that same experience.

“There’s a misconception in the state that West Hartford kids have everything they need, but this is not the case at all,” Keating added. The Town That Cares works to ensure that every West Hartford student in need has a backpack, and a gift card so that they can purchase school supplies, so that they can start the academic year equipped for success. 

Anyone unable to attend but interested in contributing can drop off donations of backpacks and/or gift cards to Target or Walmart through Aug. 21 at Keating Agency Insurance (10 Arapahoe Rd., West Hartford), Maximum Beverage (Bishops Corner Shopping Center in West Hartford and Farmington locations), and the Noah Webster House (227 South Main St., West Hartford).

For more information about the Noah Webster Backpack Bash, follow the Facebook event page

Families that are in need of donated backpacks and school supplies should register with Social Services by calling Oslander at 860-561-7580 or emailing her at [email protected].

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