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October 14, 2019Cart


by Fairfield County Business Journal

Martin D. Schwartz named 71st ringmaster of The Barnum Festival

Martin D. Schwartz of Fairfield, the recently retired president and CEO of The Kennedy Center and a longtime community leader and advocate, has been tapped as the 71st ringmaster of The Barnum Festival, one of the region’s best-loved annual traditions.  

Martin Schwarz in the ringmaster jacket. Photo courtesy Stuart Walls, Woodstock Photo

The kickoff event, Meet the Ringmaster Dinner, will take place Nov. 27 starting at 6 p.m. at Testo’s Restaurant, 1775 Madison Ave., Bridgeport. The community will have the opportunity to greet and congratulate the new ringmaster at this pasta dinner. As an added bonus, ringmasters of the past 40 years will be in attendance.

“We are happy to have Martin Schwartz as the 2019 Barnum Festival Ringmaster,” said Armando Goncalves, market president of People’s United Bank and president of The Barnum Festival Board of Directors. “We are looking forward to building on this year’s theme ‘Everyone Counts,’ which aligns with PT Barnum’s legacy to bring fun and laughter to everyone. Under Marty’s leadership, this year we will have a great Barnum Festival. He will do a tremendous job representing all our communities.” 

Schwartz retired from The Kennedy Center earlier this year. A champion for people with disabilities, he has touched the lives of thousands of families throughout Connecticut during his nearly 40 years as an executive and is nationally recognized in the rehabilitation field. 

“As ringmaster of The Barnum Festival, I have an opportunity to give back to the community in a big way,” said Schwartz. “I am truly honored to lead this major state festival and will be introducing new exciting events. In keeping with this year’s theme ‘Everyone Counts,’ we will be embracing and supporting people with disabilities and donating part of the proceeds to support special needs children.” 

Throughout the decades, under Schwartz’s stewardship, one groundbreaking program after another was created at The Kennedy Center providing greater opportunities for people with disabilities.

His leadership ability extends beyond The Kennedy Center and he has provided leadership to numerous community and philanthropic organizations throughout the state and country.             

Still active in the community, Schwartz is a member of the board of directors emeritus of the Trumbull Chamber of Commerce. He also holds two volunteer positions at Fairfield University: Advisory Board of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, and Distinguished Visiting Professional.

The Barnum Festival is a celebration of the city of Bridgeport and the surrounding area that was organized in 1948 to help support local businesses and honor P.T. Barnum — a world-renowned showman and city leader. The first festival was held in 1949. The Barnum Festival events focus on building community spirit, fostering philanthropy and celebrating the diverse cultures represented by residents. The festival culminates in a weekend-long Barnum Palooza that hosts parades, concerts, fireworks and other family friendly festivities. Visit for more information or call 203-367-8495 for tickets to the pasta dinner, which are $40 per person.