Ringmaster Stafstrom: Fun, Fun, Fun!

John Stafstrom
2013 Barnum festival Ringmaster John Stafstrom greets supporters at Aquarion Thursday night.

To know 2013 Barnum Festival Ringmaster John Stafstrom is to know someone who enjoys the good life. And it was a note he sounded as he donned the signature ringmaster’s red jacket sounding an enthusiastic theme about the city’s future and his year leading the 65th annual salute to P.T. Barnum, the 19th-century mayor, showman and industrial revolution leader who donated Seaside Park to the city and developed large tracts of land for newly arriving immigrants. Stafstrom was introduced Thursday evening at the downtown headquarters of Aquarion where Barnum served as president.

Stafstrom, the former Democratic Town Chair, brings to the table as ringmaster a cadre of political, governmental and business contacts from around the state to infuse excitement into a multi-month celebration with city neighborhoods and suburban neighbors. Stafstrom didn’t waste any time echoing his theme of future and fun. “This is one ringmaster’s ball you will not want to miss.”

Several former ringmasters, area business leaders, Mayor Bill Finch and Stafstrom’s spouse Dennis Murphy, deputy commissioner of the State Department of Labor, attended the announcement. Stafstrom background below provided by the festival:

John F. Stafstrom, Jr., a partner in the Bridgeport office of Pullman & Comley, LLC and longtime Bridgeport resident, was selected today by the Board of Directors of the Barnum Festival as the 2013 Ringmaster of the annual celebration.

Mr. Stafstrom was selected as the 65th Ringmaster of the organization, which was created in 1948 to commemorate the life and achievements of P.T. Barnum, world famous entrepreneur and former mayor of Bridgeport. Over the years, a veritable “who’s who” of regional and community leaders have held the position; Mr. Stafstrom succeeds 2012 Ringmaster Frank J. Carroll, International Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and 2011 Ringmaster Armando Goncalves, regional president of People’s United Bank.

“Both in his work as an attorney, and in his involvement in the community, John has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to Bridgeport and the local region,” said Festival President Ken Maloney. “We know he will bring a real energy and vitality to the ringmaster role as we celebrate the Barnum Festival’s 65th year.”

Mr. Stafstrom has been an attorney with Pullman & Comley LLC since 1981. He chairs the firm’s Public Finance Department, and has been involved in some of the city and state’s most exciting development projects, including Steel Point in Bridgeport; HarborPoint in Stamford; the new Jackson Laboratories facility at UConn Health Center and the Connecticut Airport Authority. In addition, he is a recognized leader in numerous community and civic activities. He is the former chair of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, and from 1987 through 1994, he served on the Bridgeport City Council, including serving as Chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Mr. Stafstrom was a founder of Career Resources, Inc., a program that provides job placement assistance and career services to individuals on public assistance, returning veterans, and others in need. He is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and is a former trustee of Bridgeport’s Discovery Museum. Mr. Stafstrom serves on the National Leadership Council of Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.



  1. Enough of the flowery bullshit about Stafstrom. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He has been behind the scenes of this nasty Finch administration. I could give a shit less about who is ringmaster for the Barnum Festival. It’s made up of mostly out-of-towners who use Bridgeport to run their venues because the other towns can’t. Now we have a gay ringmaster. Let me ask this: How many ringmasters have been black or Hispanic?

  2. What do you want? Last time they made Frankie Carroll Ringmaster. Now there is a guy who has done much to earn such a noble honor. This time it’s Stafstrom. Whose next? Hitler?

  3. Interesting choice for a Ringmaster. Flattering slant on Stafstrom shown in recent articles here. I can see how this fluffy slant is a yawn for posters on this blog who are, for the most part, completely unimpressed and wholly underwhelmed with this man. But step right up and enjoy the show; this is Bridgeport, you know!

  4. If you’ve read the rag known as the CT Post you’ll see all sorts of innuendo. Here you only have one … sad, if you know him.
    ‘Stafstrom didn’t waste any time echoing his theme of future and fun. “This is one ringmaster’s ball you will not want to miss.”‘

  5. Too much Ballyhoo about the Gay Nineties!

    Let me set you straight. John Kartovsky was the first gay Ringmaster!

    Stafstrom will bring much-kneaded dough to the table.

    I can hardly wait for The Whip & Whistle Luncheon. The festival will do fine on John’s watch!

  6. *** Monsters Ball, Rocky Horror Show, Wing Ding Festival, Jenny Lind Dance, Whip, Whistle & Leather Luncheon, Tom Thumb Fashion Show, Red Hat Society Dinner and the Barnum Festival itself should do just fine on J.S.’s watch, no? ***

    1. You are probably right about that fact. He has the network and the personality to bring much to this role. If it benefits Bridgeport, why should we not support this choice? Interesting yes, but not without merit.

  7. Andy Fardy, George Bellinger and Peter Hurst have been the ONLY black Barnum Festival Ringmasters. I find it strange we have a parade to celebrate the Barnum Festival but Bridgeport does NOTHING to celebrate the founding of America’s independence on the 4th of July. But then again, this is Bridgeport, CT and what did PT Barnum say about who was born every what? He knew Bridgeport very well and he is still laughing in his grave.

  8. How about a simple congrats to John Stafstrom instead of character assaults? This is the Barnum Festival. A highlight in this city. I will bet Stafstrom will probably be one hell of a Ringmaster. I am not so sure he needed to be identified as the first gay leader. But he is certainly the first out and proud. Get real! Support the Barnum festival and get excited. Stafstrom will make sure Bridgeport puts its best foot forward. I think they made an excellent choice. It is not necessary to bring political affiliations into the mix. It would be nice if this blog didn’t only attract negative, miserable, hateful, bigoted and annoying individuals. Stand up and contribute some positive energy to this city and to those trying to improve the image and quality of life for its residents. Good luck, Stafstrom. We expect you to put on the Greatest Show on Earth.

  9. We should all appreciate for once the Ringmaster lives in Bridgeport, is handsome as all get out, and will look great in boots … besides being able to plan one hell of a party! Finally a festival that will bring out everyone!


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