Barnum Festival

Barnum Festival

Late May-early July
Bridgeport, Connecticut, was the home of Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891) and the birthplace of Charles Sherwood Stratton (1838-1883), known by his circus name of "General" Tom Thumb, a 28" tall man who was the main attraction of Barnum's 19th-century circus, the Greatest Show on Earth. Barnum was also Bridgeport's mayor in 1875, and his contributions to the city included bringing in new industrial jobs and building a number of parks. Since 1949 he has been honored with a festival beginning in late May and extending through the Fourth of July. Occasionally it continues through July 5, which is Barnum's birthday, or beyond. The idea behind the festival, which is sponsored by the P.T. Barnum Foundation, Inc., is to get away from Bridgeport's industrial image and to promote the city's circus heritage.
One of the highlights of the festival is the event known as "Champions on Parade," the largest senior drum corps competition in the Northeast. It takes place on the Saturday evening before July 4. On Sunday there is a Barnum Memorial Ceremony at the cemetery where he is buried. Many of the events focus on Barnum's circus background, including entertainment by clowns and a visit to the Barnum Museum, where there is a miniature replica of his circus. The festival is preceded by the selection of an honorary Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, Thumb's wife, from among the area's schoolchildren. There is also an honorary Jenny Lind (the Swedish-born soprano who toured the United States under Barnum's sponsorship). Other figures associated with Barnum and his circus are recognized in this way as well.
CONTACTS:
P. T. Barnum Foundation
1070 Main St.
Bridgeport, CT 06604
866-867-8495 or 203-367-8495; fax: 203-367-0212
www.barnumfestival.com
SOURCES:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 506
GdUSFest-1985, p. 28
References in periodicals archive ?
He is a recipient of the 'Good Scout Award', presented by the Fairfield County Boy Scouts of America, and was the 45th Ringmaster of greater Bridgeport's celebrated Barnum Festival.