BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Jason Julian knew what he was getting into when he agreed to serve as the Ringmaster for annual Barnum Festival in Bridgeport. He watched his father, Andrew, serve as the festival’s leader 35 years ago.
“I remember the parade and the other events, and how much people enjoyed them,’’ Julian said. “I remember seeing how excited people were in the floats in the parade. I still see volunteers from when he was the Ringmaster, and they’re still volunteers. The relationships that develop from the Barnum Festival last a lifetime.”
Julian, a Monroe resident, was named the Ringmaster for the Barnum Festival last year. Two events have already helped usher in this year’s festival, which runs through June 26. The next event is the Whip, Whistle & Watch Luncheon on Friday, May 20, at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport.
Julian, a longtime Barnum Festival volunteer, said he learned from his father and other Ringmasters about the role. “Everyone gave me bits and pieces of information,’’ he said. “They all gave me good advice.”
Julian and the Barnum Festival committee have worked to develop new events. They include a road race, featuring a 5k and a 10k, on May 29 and two-day “Barnumpalooza” at Seaside Park in Bridgeport on June 25-26. The event will feature music, rides for children, a beer garden and food trucks.
“We tried to add events and have them sponsored by a business that is associated with it,’’ Julian said. “Julian Enterprises (Jason is the owner) is a commercial real estate and construction company, and we sponsored the Touch-A-Truck. It also ties into building Barnum’s legacy. It was a very successful event.”
Some other tweaks this year include changing the parade route to roll down Capitol Avenue and finish at Seaside Park, and adding some small rides for children at the symphony and fireworks show in late June. “We tried to add little twists to the events that were already successful,’’ Julian said. “You have to push things out and keep things fresh to keep people wanting to come back.”
Julian said he he was surprised he was selected as the Ringmaster for this year’s Festival. “I was honored,’’ Julian said. “I talked it over with my wife and children because it’s a huge time commitment. “Everyone has been working hard to make sure we have a great Festival.”
For complete Barnum Festival information, click here to visit its website.