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West Hartford’s Signature ‘Celebrate!’ Festival Canceled for 2021, FUNd RUN to Return

The town’s signature spring event, Celebrate! West Hartford, will not be held in 2021.

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By Ronni Newton

While West Hartford residents will be anxious to celebrate once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides enough to allow large gatherings, out of an abundance of caution and to protect the community, the town’s signature event, Celebrate! West Hartford, will not take place in 2021.

Organizers announced last March that the 2020 Celebrate! West Hartford event, which had been scheduled for June 6 and 7, would not be held, but at the time had hoped to have the event resume in 2021. It had been tentatively scheduled for June 5-6, 2021.

The difficult decision to cancel the 2021 event was made in coordination with West Hartford town leaders, the Celebrate! West Hartford Committee, and town staff from multiple departments. They determined that there is no guarantee that COVID-19 will be under control enough to ensure that the event will be safe from a public safety standpoint – even if it were to be postponed to the fall, which the committee did consider.

“While we are very disappointed, we want to be smart and safe and put COVID-19 behind us,” event coordinator Linda Geisler said. “There are still ways we can ‘celebrate’ West Hartford. We plan to do the FUNd RUN again. It was very successful in 2020 and raised much-needed funds for town funds which support our neighbors in West Hartford.”

Geisler said it was important to let the stakeholders – rental companies, vendors, exhibitors, sponsors, musicians, and others – know about the status of the overall event as soon as possible.

“We’ll also be looking at other possibilities like an online Arts & Crafts show,” Geisler said, and other plans which will allow for physical distancing while also supporting local businesses, artists, and organizations, as well as people in need in the community.

Last year, the FUNd RUN, the reimagined road race that carried the tagline “run apart, give together,” was a resounding success. Nearly 600 people participated over the course of the weekend of June 5-8, 2020, and raised more than $12,000 for The The Town That Cares and the Leisure Services Scholarship funds.

Until it was canceled last year, the Celebrate! West Hartford festival was held for 33 straight years. The event, which traditionally signifies the unofficial start of summer, annually attracts tens of thousands of people with music, arts and crafts, games, rides, and other activities.

The road race started the second year of the festival, and because the FUNd RUN did take place last year, this year’s event will mark its 34th year.

The Committee and staff will now refocus their efforts on plans which allow for physical distancing while also supporting local businesses, artists and other organizations, to raise money for The Town That Cares and the Leisure Services Scholarship Funds which serve people in need in our community. More information to come.

“Celebrate! West Hartford 2022 is scheduled for June 11-12, 2022, and we look forward to seeing everyone in person then,” Geisler said.

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