By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Since 1962, Bristol’s Chrysanthemum Festival has become the event it is today because of the countless number of volunteers who devoted their time to it.
Bristol resident Lucy Gorneault is one of these volunteers.
The 2014 Mum Festival kicks off Sept. 27.
For over 30 years, Gorneault has committed her time to the annual event, first serving as a liaison between festival committee and the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. After retiring from the chamber, where she worked for 39 years, Gorneault decided to put more time into serving for the Mum Festival, which she looks forward to every year. Currently, Gorneault serves as secretary of the festival and helps out on the financial side of it.
This year, the 53rd Annual Mum Festival is celebrating those like Gorneault who have committed their time to the event with the theme, “Volunteers, Heart of Bristol.”
“There are really a lot of good memories, and the best thing for me is all the people I’ve worked with over the years—they’ve all been hard-working and whenever they needed something done, there’s always someone else on the committee to help them out if they were overwhelmed… I really enjoy it.”
Joe Krolikowski, co-chair of this year’s Mum Festival, said the committee wanted to choose a theme that recognized the number of individuals and organizations in the community that contribute greatly to Bristol. This year, there are over 20 volunteers who have devoted their time to the Mum Festival.
“We felt that Bristol is a great community, and there are a lot of organizations for us as a community that thrive as volunteers,” said Krolikowski, adding how grateful he feels for all volunteers like Gorneault who go out of their way every year for the festival. “They provide so much to the community that we wanted to honor them.”
Gorneault added every year she looks forward to seeing the variety of craft vendors and entertainment as well as the antique auto show.
“It brings families there,” said Gorneault, adding that last year’s apple fritters became a huge success at the festival. “Each year, we have added things to it.”
As a volunteer of the Mum Festival, Gorneault said this year’s theme of the festival honors not only the volunteers of the event itself, but also recognizes all volunteers of the entire Bristol community. Whether sending out e-mails, working with food vendors or completing other behind-the-scene responsibilities, Gorneault has helped the festival in a variety of ways.
“Just using that theme…I think it kind of salutes all the volunteers in the community, whether it’s a club or a different organization,” said Gorneault, who raised her family in Bristol for years. “Without the volunteers…not too much would get done.”
Krolikowski added the parade is one way in which the festival celebrates all of the volunteers in the community. From schools and marching bands to fire departments and veterans’ groups to musical/ theater groups and local businesses, a variety of people from the community will take part in the parade.
“We try to be very family-oriented—we try to get different organizations involved,” said Krolikowski, adding how local businesses have become more involved in the festival this year.
In recent years, the Mum Festival has held various fundraisers in the community leading up to the event. Whether hosting a pasta supper at the Little League Center or selling treats at the West End Association’s Rockwell Park Summer Festival, the Mum Festival celebrates the positive attributes of Bristol through these different fundraiser events held in the community, said Gorneault.
“It shows that we’re interested in them, and they’re interested in us,” said Gorneault, adding that volunteers of the festival come from all walks of life. “People look forward to it every year, and we get many donations of gifts, and that helps us out.”
Gorneault added the Mum Festival’s presence at different community events is just one example in which the annual event has grown over the years.
“It has made us more known,” said Gorneault, adding the Hometown Hero serving as parade marshal also is a most recent way in which the festival has evolved.
The 53rd Annual Mum Festival weekend will kick off Saturday, Sept. 27 with a variety of family and children’s activities, including craft and organization booths, activities and entertainment, Touch-a-Truck, inflatable basketball, and more. The event will continue on Sunday, Sept. 28 with the Hometown Hero Breakfast at the American Legion and the Mum Parade in the afternoon.
For more information, visit http://bristolmumfestival.org/mumfestival/default.asp.
By LISA CAPOBIANCO