By LISA CAPOBIANCO
After being successfully reloaded in 2016, the Mum Festival will make its way to Memorial Boulevard again this fall.
Planning has officially kicked off for the 56th Annual Mum Festival, which will return as a four-day action-filled weekend again this September. The event kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 21 and Friday, Sept. 22 with a special carnival and other forms of entertainment. Festival grounds will then explode from Saturday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 24 with food trucks, crafters, local businesses, games, community organizations, nonprofits and more.
This year, the festival theme is “Home Is Where the Heart Is”—a theme that resonated with many community members after seeing the success of the revived Bristol tradition last fall. After the Mum Festival Committee disbanded in early 2016, a group of local volunteers stepped up to continue the festival. With support from the city and the community at large, these volunteers planned an event that featured something for the whole family.
From over 130 vendors and live performances to an adult beer garden and a car show to an expanded Touch-A-Truck area, Memorial Boulevard was buzzing with activities—and thousands of visitors throughout the Mum Festival weekend last year.
For Mum Festival committee members Shannen Tack, Julia Norton, and Mickey Goldwasser, this kind of success was a testament that folks wanted to see the festival continue.
“We saw generations of people coming,” said Goldwasser, who volunteered during the festival last year. “They wanted to come, and the festival committee did a really good job of trying to have something for everybody, and that will continue this year.”
Last year, Tack served as a volunteer as well as a vendor, so she was able to see the end result while wearing two festival hats.
“It was such a cool experience to see everything come together,” said Tack. “I think that’s what we all have in common. We
all have a common goal to do this for the city.”
“It gives you a sense of pride,” said Norton, noting how all of the festivities brought the boulevard to life last year.
“Passion is contagious,” added Goldwasser. “There’s hundreds of people who got involved—whether they donated or volunteered or were on a committee.”
This year, Tack is excited to take a more active role in the festival, as she serves as chair of the festival’s marketing committee. After seeing her parents Dianne and Karl Tack take a lead on the committee last year, Tack knew she could do it too.
“It’s exciting to step into a role that was done so well last year,” said Tack.
Committee members said they learned a lot during the festival last year, and hope to incorporate new ideas made by community members into this year’s festival.
“Throughout the festival, we listened, and lot of things people had suggested you’ll see incorporated in this year’s festival,” said Goldwasser.
“We’re keeping a tradition, but it’s also renewed,” said Norton, who grew up in Bristol.
Although the details are still being finalized, said committee members, festival goers can look forward to both new and existing Mum traditions—like the annual Mum Parade. Operated by the Bristol Exchange Club for many years, the parade has been recognized as a focal point of the festival. Team spirit dominated the streets of Bristol last year, as the University of Connecticut’s Jonathan The Husky served as parade marshal, with the renowned UConn marching band, UConn’s cheerleaders and dance team joining in.
“The Exchange Club is all about service to the community, and this was a way they were able to do it,” said Goldwasser.
A new highlight of the festival that committee members feel particularly excited about this year is an art gala where local artists will have a chance to display their work. The gala, which is expected to take off on the first night of the festival, also will feature music, food and a beer and wine tent.
“We’re excited about it,” said Tack.
Committee members also hope to hold a number of fundraising events leading up to the festival. Although the festival receives some funding from the city, the event also is made possible by the donations that pour in from the community.
“The Mum Festival Committee does a lot of fundraising to put this on,” said Goldwasser, adding how the festival has attracted visitors from all over the state and region. “We can’t do this without the support of the community.”
To date, the festival has been well-received by volunteers in addition to vendors. Many vendors that participated last year have already submitted their applications, said Tack.
“We’re starting to collect sponsorships. In addition to the sponsorships we have already renewed from last year, letters have been sent out to all of the local businesses seeing if they would like to get more involved as well,” said Tack. “We’ve had a great response so far.”
As a way to show appreciation for festival sponsors and supporters, the festival will feature a hospitality tent.
“We’ll invite them into the hospitality tent where there will be a little extra things going on,” said Tack. “We want to recognize people who are supporting the festival.”
For more information about the 56th Annual Mum Festival or to get involved, visit bristolmumfestival. com/.
Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.