BRISTOL - The Bristol Mum Festival kicked off Thursday with fun for all ages including music, food, carnival rides and an art show.
Children with painted faces swung their arms as they danced to the music or chased each other across the field on Memorial Boulevard.
Others waited with their parents for their chance to go down a giant slide, ride a merry-go-round or hop on the “dragon wagon.”
Many couples, after stopping at one of the food vendors, dined in front of the main stage, eager to enjoy the night’s entertainment.
Glen Calvin Thomas Fahey said he was looking forward to checking out the music and craft vendors this year.
“I’m hoping to hit the festival each day this year; I’ve been coming for probably a decade,” he said. “It’s a tangible, substantive way of seeing the community come together.”
Jessica Januszewski came to the festival with her 6-year-old daughter, Laighla, and 4-year-old niece, Aria.
“We came last year and we really liked it,” said Januszweski. “I’m taking them to go on the rides.”
“I really like the big swing,” said Laighla.
Leah, from West Hartford, and Carol, from North Haven, both came to the festival for the first time this year.
“I saw it was happening and decided to check it out,” said Leah, who, as did Leah, would not give her last name. “I’m interested in checking out the music and the food and I’m thinking of buying some mums.”
Monica, who came to the Mum Festival with her young daughter, said that the festival was a good opportunity to get out of the house and have some fun.
“I came to see what it has to offer this year; we came last year,” she said. “She can’t wait to dance to the music.”
Susan and Barry Eva came to the Mum Festival this year for what would likely be the last time. The two recently married and will soon be moving to England, where Barry Eva’s family lives.
“I grew up in Bristol and it is nice coming here every year for the food and the beer and to see the community come together,” said Susan Eva.
“I like to come and listen to the music,” said Barry Eva, who has been living in Bristol for the past eight years.
City Councilor Greg Hahn came to the event with his mother, Marilyn, who he said used to take him to the Mum Festival back in the 1960s. Last year, he brought his own children to the event.
“It’s a generational tradition,” said Hahn. “Last year we had an art and jazz night on Thursday and it was so successful that they will be doing it both tonight and Friday this year. I will also be playing in the Stanley Street Big Band tonight.”
Maria Salice, arts and entertainment chairwoman of the Mum Festival Committee, began the opening ceremonies. She was joined on the stage by the rest of the committee, City Councilors Hahn, Joshua Medeiros and Dave Preleski and the winners of this year’s Miss Mum Pageant, who later cut a ribbon to officially open the festival. ,
Salice thanked all those who have worked to make the Mum Festival possible, including the committee, the city, the Bristol Exchange Club and other sponsors.
“To make this happen, it doesn’t just take a village. It takes the entire city,” she said. “Let’s have a great weekend and I hope you all enjoy it.”
Salice said this year, the Mum Festival has gone from a weekend to a season, reminding visitors of events already held this month, including the outdoor movie night on Memorial Boulevard, the We Are One charity softball game, Mum Fest Bingo at the Polish Club, Harry Potter Bingo at the Elks Club and the Miss Mum Pageant.
Preleski, acting as mayor for the opening ceremonies - Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu was at a meeting - called Mum Festival weekend the “best weekend in Bristol.”
“It’s what Bristol is all about: history, tradition and the parade which we’ve all grown up loving,” he said.
Jason Fields, president of the Exchange Club, said he hopes everyone has a good time. He encouraged them to return for the fireworks tonight and enjoy the craft and food vendors.
Jack Ferraro, the festival’s general chairman, also thanked the Mum Festival Committee for its work in putting the festival together, along with other supporters including private donors, the Bristol Blues and the city’s Arts and Culture Commission.
Today, 5 to 10 p.m.
5 to 9 p.m. - Amusement rides/midway (wristbands available)
5 to 9 p.m. - Food trucks and vendors
5 to 9 p.m. -Blues and Brews beverage tent
5 to 9 p.m. - Face painting
6 to 9 p.m. - Art gala
9:15 p.m. - Fireworks
6 to 6:30 p.m.: Hometown Hero presentation
6:30 to 8 p.m. - Cole Morson Band (blues)
8:30 to 10 p.m. Relic (classic rock)
Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.
Noon to 10 p.m. - Amusement rides/midway
Noon to 10 p.m. - Food Trucks and Vendors
Noon to 10 p.m. - Craft and community vendors
Noon to 10 p.m. - Blues and Brews beverage tent
Noon to 4 p.m. - Touch-A-Vehicle
Noon to 5 p.m. - Car Show
Noon to 5 p.m. - Kids Depot: Face painting, balloon animals, pumpkin painting, Home Depot Kids Building, Family Crafts and Activities
1 to 4 p.m. - Mary Poppins
1 to 5 p.m. - Hay Rides
1 to 6 p.m. - Pony Rides
1 to 6 p.m. - Petting Zoo
4 to 8 p.m. - House and Carriage Rides
12:15 to 1 p.m. - Goza Latin Band (Latin)
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. - 8 to the Bar (swing)
2:45 to 3:15 p.m. - Completely Different Note (all male a cappella)
3:35 to 4:25 p.m. - Lori and the Legends (soul/R&B)
4:45 to 5:35 p.m. - Bootleg Band (country)
6 to 7 p.m. - Number 9 Band (Beatles tribute)
7:20 to 8 p.m. - Black Heart Tango (rock)
8:30 to 10:00 p.m. - Darik and the Funbags (party/dance/classics)
Stage East (Kids Depot area)
1:20 to 1:40 p.m. - Chris Yengel Magic
1:45 to 2:00 p.m. - Hula-Hoop Contest
2:00 to 2:30 p.m. - Nutmeg Performing Arts Center
2:30 to 2:50 p.m. - Chris Yengel Magic
3:00 to 3:20 p.m. - Simon Says and Musical Chairs Contest
3:20 to 3:40 p.m. - Disney Sing-a-long
3:40 to 4 p.m. - Completely Different Note
4 to 4:30 p.m. - Car Show announcements/awards
4:30 to 4:50 p.m. - Chris Yengel magic
5 to 6 p.m. - DJ Music
Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.
Noon to 7 p.m. - Amusement rides/midway
Noon to 7 p.m. - Food trucks and vendors
Noon to 7 p.m. - Craft and community vendors
Noon to 7 p.m. - Blues and Brews beverage tent
1:30 p.m. - Mum Parade
4 to 4:30 p.m. Philadelphia Mummers - After Parade
5 to 6:30 p.m. Mike and Jerry acoustic duo
6:30 to 7 p.m. - Closing ceremonies and remarks
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.