BRISTOL - Home is where the heart is.
That is the motto for this year’s 56th annual Mum Festival and it’s been evident throughout the event.
The marketing and planning chairwoman for the festival, Shannen Tack, said the staff came up with the theme when thinking about what encompasses the Bristol community.
With Bristol native and Miss Connecticut 2010 Brittany Decker returning for the weekend as the grand marshal - she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is a weekend news anchor for a television station - the festival really solidified its theme.
Although it began as a way for local people come out and see fields of chrysanthemums in bloom, it has expanded to become much more.
Last year the Mum Festival was revitalized as the Bristol Exchange Club and others took it over.
New this year is a kids zone area - called the Kids Depot - to keep young ones entertained all day with attractions such as like hay and pony rides.
Over 160 vendors representing local businesses, crafters, producers, restaurants, food trucks, community organizations, nonprofits and museums were present.
Adults cooled off in the beer garden tent, while others sat at tables by the Community Outdoor Theater to listen to live music.
The four-day festival, which winds up today, also features amusement rides, carnival games, an artists’ walk, car show, corn hole tournament and petting zoo.
The festival concludes today starting at noon, with a parade beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Tiffany Lavoie and her boyfriend, Bruce Guilmette, both of Bristol, said they have been coming to the festival every year for as long as they can remember.
Guilmette, who brought his two daughters, said the festival is “nice to bring together the community.”
Peoplefrom Bristol and surrounding towns as well come out to enjoy the festivities.
For Kathryn Elliot of Southington, Saturday was her first time at the festival. She came with her husband, David, who had grown up attending each year, and their daughter, Erica, who also experienced the event for the first time Saturday.
“We like to hit different fairs,” Elliot said.
Compared to others her family has been to lately, Elliot and her daughter agreed that the Mum Festival is organized and set up really well.
Last year, Tack said, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people made their way to the festival grounds over the course of the four days.
“Last year someone said ‘We don’t need to go to the Big E, we can just come here,’ ” said Tack. “It’s a lot closer to home, there’s so much to do. It’s a great community event.”