By BAILEY WRIGHT
BRISTOL— The city’s annual Mum Festival kicked off Thursday night with music from the Stanley Street Big Band, an art gala of local artists, and fireworks to close.
The weekend-long festival on Memorial Boulevard officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and presentation of the annual Hometown Hero award.
The 2017 award was presented to Bristol native Bob Montgomery, who is a former Marine Corps Reserve veteran and current columnist for the Bristol Press.
“He is a devoted volunteer. He has dozens of years of volunteer experience with different organizations within the city of Bristol,” Patrick Kilby, the Mum Festival’s Public Safety and Facilities Chair said as he presented the award.
Montgomery has volunteered for organizations including the Korean War Veterans Association, the Bristol historical society- of which he was formerly president and currently town historian, the salvation army and the Bristol sports Hall of Fame.
“I will continue to do as much as I can for as long as I can,” Montgomery said as he accepted the award.
For the first time this year, the festival also featured an art gala showcasing a dozen local artists.
In the past, artists could display their work as vendors by renting a booth, but Ginger Grant- owner of The Studio in Bristol- thought a dedicated place for local artists would be well received.
“There isn’t really a large public display for art here in Bristol. So people don’t really realize how many artists there are here in town,” Grant said.
After bringing the idea to the Mum Festival Committee, she reached out to local artists to see who would be interested in participating.
“It’s amazing… An event like this brings (the artists) out,” Grant said.
Bristol resident Lisa Young attended the festival and art gala with her family and echoed the great chance to see local artists.
“It’s pretty awesome knowing that there are so many local artists,” Young said. Or in other words “It’s amazing,” as her young daughter Cecilia said.
Chris Brown, a painter from Hartford, has participated in the Mum Festival as a vendor for two years, but found the gala to be a “fantastic” new feature.
“I think it’s great because when I did the vending it’s not really too focused on the art… but to have a whole gallery setting is really nice,” Brown said.
Brown did a live painting of two pieces on Thursday that will be on display at his booth Saturday and Sunday.
Some of the other artists from the gala will also have vending booths up throughout the weekend displaying their work.
Artists participating in the gala this year included Nigel Wynter, Ashley Lodovico, Justine Tine, Evan Maguire, Lindsay Vigue, Krystal Stowe, James Haney, Christopher Brown, Karen Madore, Seana Bombard, and Morgan Urgo.
PHOTOS by BAILEY WRIGHT