Celebrate West Hartford, the town’s signature festival, will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7.
By Ronni Newton
Celebrate West Hartford has been a not-to-be-missed event in the region since 1987, and has grown from a small town fair to what is now a two-day festival that includes something for everyone.
The 29th annual Celebrate West Hartford will be held on Saturday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 7 from noon to 6 p.m.
The event annually attracts more than 30,000 people during the course of its two-day run, including town residents and tourists who come to West Harford to enjoy the food, fun, music and crafts the festival has to offer.
Many would say the juried arts and crafts fair – which features the work of more than 175 artisans – is the reason they come to Celebrate West Hartford every year. Lauren D’Alessandro who moved from New Haven to Ashville, NC, told event organizers that she plans a trip to visit her family every year timed to coincide with the event.
“The show is a wonderful showcase for a wide range of craft mediums and styles,” said Barbara Belmont, show supervisor. “We are delighted that so many award-winning artists and crafters from Connecticut choose to exhibit with us, as do guest exhibitors from a dozen different states. The diversity of style they bring helps to keep the show current,” she added.
The arts and crafts show features leatherwork; hand woven textiles and fabric arts; fine art including mixed media, oil paintings, acrylics and watercolors; color and black and white photography; and a wide range of works in wood, metal, glass and stone.
There is also an exceptional selection of hand-crafted jewelery, in all different styles and at a variety of price points.
But wait … there’s more.
If you’re hungry, there are 27 different food vendors offering a selection of yummy dishes ranging from festival favorites
(ice cream, fudge, cotton candy, pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers, fried dough, and the famous Grandpa’s Kettle Corn); to healthy options (smoothies, salads, hummus and pita), to full-size entrees (pad thai, lobster rolls, pirogies, “toasted” sandwiches, gyros, shepherd’s pie;
to a wide range of desserts.
You won’t leave hungry, and if you stay long enough you can have lunch as well as dinner!
But wait … there’s more.
Maybe this part should have come before the food, but for many young and young-at-heart, the carnival rides are the best part of Celebrate West Hartford.
There are the rides that spin you around, a giant slide, and a ferris wheel. For the even-younger set, there are also kiddie cars and swirling tubs.
There’s also a horse-drawn trolley that will take you from the festival, around the Center, and back.
There are pony rides for little kids, and even a petting zoo (can’t ride those animals though).
In addition to carnival games, golfers can test out the mini-golf course featuring nine holes – each one replicating a West Hartford landmark like Town Hall and the Noah Webster House.
Leisure Services is once again offering the “Step Up to Health” Challenge – with a variety of sponsors participating with free, fun, physical activities and a prize to those who complete the challenge.
Approximately 70 non-profits and 50 other businesses have also reserved tent space at Celebrate West Hartford this year. Visitors to the event can stop by the sponsor tents to learn more about the organizations, participate in activitiets, and in many cases receive free goodies.
But wait … there’s more.
The main stage will feature a variety of entertainment throughout the two-day festival.
On Saturday, June 6, school groups will perform. The jam-packed schedule is:
- 10:30-11:15 a.m.: Sedgwick MS Jazz Band
- 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: King Philip MS Jazz Band
- 12:20-12:50 p.m.: West Hartford Women’s Chorale
- 1-2:15 p.m.: Northwest Catholic Big Band and Jazz Singers
- 2:20-2:35 p.m.: Conard High School Be S#arp
- 2:45-4:15 p.m.: Conard Concert Jazz Band and Jazz Combo
- 4:30-6 p.m.: Hall High Concert Jazz Band and Jazz Ensemble
Sunday, June 7, belongs to the professionals. The following groups (descriptions provided by event organizers) are slated to perform:
- Noon-1:30 p.m.: Midnight Rodeo, considered one of Connecticut’s hottest new country music cover bands, Midnight Rodeo has been taking the state by storm. The 5-piece group plays current songs by artists such as Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks, Sara Evans and Tim McGraw. Every Midnight Rodeo performance is a high-energy stage show that crowds love to dance to.
- 2-3:30 p.m.: Mikata, a 10-piece band has been delighting audiences for more than thirty years. Recipient of the New Haven Arts Council Award for “outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the community,” Mikata has performed not only in New Haven, but in clubs in New York City, at colleges around the country and at concerts and festivals in the U.S., Canada and Japan. Mikata performs a full repertoire of hard-hitting Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Bolero, Cha-cha and Latin Jazz. Mikata will also be giving Salsa lessons during their performance!
- 4-6 p.m.: Mass-Conn Fusion draws its talent from both sides of the Massachusetts-Connecticut border. The group has an extensive repertoire featuring Motown, R&B, Jazz and Blues hits of the 60s right up to the present. They won the Hartford Advocate’s Grand Slam Band R&B for seven years and currently play more than 150 dates a year. True pros, they have the musical credentials to match their charisma.
But wait … there’s still more.
Rain or shine, more than 700 runners will be participating in the Celebrate West Hartford 5K road race, scheduled for Sunday, June 7, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.
The annual race is directed by the Hartford Track Club, sanctioned by the RRCA and certified by the SATF. The 5K course begins at Whole Foods Market (50 Raymond Road) and ends on Burr Street.
Now in its seventh year, the Kids Fun Run will take place on Sunday, June 7 at 8:30 a.m., with kids ages 10 and under dashing through Blue Back Square. According to the race coordinator Marisa Mascolo Halm, “The course measures about a half mile, and every finisher receives a medal for completing the course.”
Parents may accompany their young children in the Kids Fun Run if necessary, but most participants run the course on their own. Whole Foods Market has a special reception for the children in their parking lot after the Fun Run.
Online registration for both races is available at www.celebratewesthartford.com. Registrations (cash or check only) will also be accepted at pre-race packet pick-up through 6 p.m. on Friday, and is also available on Saturday, June 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at Fleet Feet.
Registrations for all divisions will be accepted on Sunday morning from 8 to 9 a.m. at the registration tent (cash or check only) in the Whole Foods Market parking lot.
The Celebrate West Hartford Road Race Committee held a contest for design of this year’s race shirt, and the winner’s design will appear on the free shirts that will be given to the first 800 5K registrants (requested size not guaranteed).
According to Road Race Committee Chairman Mike Alquist, “We encourage runners to take advantage of [the pre-race packet pick-up] option, as it will make race day morning run more efficiently for everyone involved.”
As a new service during Celebrate West Hartford, Doctors Express Urgent Care will set up and staff a cooling station for runners at the end of Sunday’s Road Race. It will be located around the corner from the finish line, on the lawn of the West Hartford Police Station on Raymond Road.
Runners can look forward to pre-chilled ice packs, coolers of ice, water bottles, camping chairs and fans for additional cooling.
Celebrate West Hartford is open to the public and is held rain or shine. There is no admission charge and ample free parking is available on neighborhood streets. Programs listing all of the arts and crafts participants, food vendors, sponsors, and a map of the site will be available at each of three information booths conveniently spread throughout the Town Hall site.
Visit www.celebratewesthartford.com for more information on the event.
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