Ficarra Named Executive Director Of Barnum Festival

Mayor Bill Finch’s former communications director has been named executive director of the Barnum Festival. Festival news release:

Building upon the vision to transform the Barnum Festival into an economic driver, the organization that leads the annual salute to Bridgeport’s former mayor, showman and philanthropist announced today the appointment of Elaine K. Ficarra as full-time executive director. Ficarra joins the festival in this leadership role following nearly six years as communications director for Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

“We searched for someone with a wealth of business, media and government experience,” says Michael E. Niedermeier, president of the Barnum Festival Board of Directors. “In Elaine we’ve recruited someone with deep regional contacts that can build momentum and serve as the catalyst to reshape the festival as an economic driver for the region.

The Festival’s mission, Niedermeier continued, is to drive economic development for the City and the region through entertainment and education with the goal of driving visitors, and developing tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and civic leaders.

The Barnum Festival was established in 1949 to celebrate the life and times of entrepreneur P.T. Barnum and commemorate the history of Bridgeport. The festival provides family entertainment that enriches the community, embraces diversity and celebrates life. Events include the Champions on Parade drum corps competition, The Wing Ding Parade for Children, Barnum’s Got Talent Vocal Competition for regional schools, a spectacular fireworks display at Seaside Park and The Great Street Parade the Sunday before the Fourth of July.

“I’ve been an ardent supporter and volunteer of the festival for many years and look forward to reshaping the festival to broaden its appeal so it can expand and attract an even bigger audience,” says Ficarra. “Working together with the City administration and the Festival Board and Foundation, we want to create more opportunities for residents and visitors alike to experience all the fantastic assets that make Bridgeport a vibrant city–sports and entertainment venues, museums, and a panoply of restaurants representing the ethnic fabric of the Park City.”

Ficarra has more than 30 years experience in journalism, communications and marketing. Prior to her appointment as communications director for Mayor Finch, Ficarra served as director of marketing and public relations for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven. While overseeing all facets of the festival’s marketing and public relations efforts she was instrumental in an extensive re-branding effort that aided in broadening the festival’s visibility and impact as one of the premier arts festivals in the Northeast.

Ficarra is the former features editor of the Connecticut Post, where she worked from 1980 to 2001. Prior to her post in New Haven, she was manager of employee communications at Bridgeport-based People’s Bank.

A graduate of Northeastern University with a BA in Journalism, Ficarra is no stranger to the sizzle of Fourth of July celebrations. She’s a native of Bristol, R.I., home to the oldest continuous July 4th celebration of its kind in the United States.

“I’m looking forward to working with Elaine to bring this year’s Festival to the people of the Bridgeport region,” says 2014 Barnum Festival Ringmaster Paul Timpanelli, chief executive officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. “Her wealth of experience in marketing, public relations and government will be invaluable in our drive to expand the Festival’s reach.”

When Timpanelli was announced as festival ringmaster last October, he told a packed crowd at the Edgerton Center For Performing Arts at Sacred Heart University of his goal to elevate the festival as an economic force by promoting Barnum’s contributions to the city and world progress as businessman, entrepreneur, innovator and economic development leader.

Barnum lured to Bridgeport industrialists such as sewing machine innovator Elias Howe and the landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Seaside Park from land donated by Barnum. He also was a visionary behind Bridgeport Hospital, Aquarion Water Company and Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company. He also developed the East Side of Bridgeport that became home to European immigrants attracted by the companies Barnum helped establish.

For more information, please visit or call 203-367-8495.



  1. In 1854 P.T. Barnum wrote “The Life of P.T. Barnum” at the age of 44 years. In an appendix he wrote at length about ten Rules for Success in Business. I have shared the first line for each of the rules as a guide to readers who may be curious to research further:
    Ten Rules
    1. Select the kind of business that suits your natural inclinations and temperament.
    2. Let your pledged word ever be sacred.
    3. Whatever you do, do with all your might.
    4. Sobriety. Use no description of intoxicating drinks.
    5. Let hope predominate, but be not too visionary.
    6. Do not scatter you powers.
    7. Engage proper employees.
    8. Advertise your business. Do not hide your light under a bushed.
    9. Avoid extravagance; and always live considerably within your income, if you can do so without absolute starvation.
    10. Do not depend upon others.

    Concluding: “With proper attention to the foregoing rules, and such observations as a man of sense will pick up in his own experience, the road to competence will not, I think, be found a difficult one.”

    He lived to 1891 serving as City Mayor, two terms in the State Legislature, and creating other successful enterprises. Will Elaine and Ringmaster Paul attract and land the economic development they talk of through the Festival vehicle? Time will tell.

  2. Can somebody tell me who the character is on public access cable channel 88 at 9 pm this Friday evening? Republican self-loathing Bridgeporter anti-Obama. Dressed in his Duck Dynasty wardrobe.

  3. I wish Elaine the best in whatever she does and I mean that sincerely. She was a swell colleague at The Bridgeport Telegram years back. Working in the administration of any Bridgeport city government is wacky. I am sure going to the Barnum Festival will be something of a welcome change, if not relief, and hopefully fun.

    However, at a moment like this, the Evil Jimmy, a moniker I believe Elaine hung on me many years ago, is almost guaranteed to pop out of his burrow.

    Yes, I am sure all reporters at The Connecticut Post look forward to Elaine coming over to 410 pitching stories about the Wing Ding, Jenny Lind and the cornucopia of other exciting and breathtaking Barnum Festival events.

    No one could ever forget the enthusiastic reaction of The Bridgeport Telegram staff–remember, Elaine?–come the advent of the Barnum Festival season, sullenly anticipating the Barnum Festival’s anthrax spores of joy and happiness being dusted throughout the newsroom.

    The truth can now be told: I never covered a single one, even though every reporter was supposed to get tagged with something, not even any of those Anita-Bryant-wannabe-warblers at the Klein, not even a Wing Ding I vowed to turn into a triple South End homicide with accompanying car crashes and train wreck.

    Back to the Good Jimmy–or would that be out of character?–Good Luck, Elaine.

  4. If there is one man who knows how to raise funds and bring people together, it’s John Stafstrom. Who is it this year, that deadbeat Paul “Flush” Timpanelli?


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