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 www.barnumfestival.com or call 203-367-8495.