It’s coming. You can smell it in the air. The seasons changing from summer to fall are upon us here in New England. In Bristol, the pumpkin spice treats are abundant and the light sweaters and scarves have come out of their closets. The Halloween displays are going up in all the stores and it’s almost my birthday. Ok, that was a little self-serving… but since I was a kid, birthday weekend has always also meant that the Mum Festival is coming to Bristol!
Fittingly, this year’s theme for the Mum Festival is “Home is Where the Heart Is.” I’m betting that I’m not the only Bristol native who finds this yearly tradition a staple symbolizing wholesome fun, family and community time, and all the beautiful (and delicious!) sights and tastes and sounds of the autumn season.
Real estate, homes, the housing market… don’t exist in a bubble. They are fueled and changed constantly by the culture of the cities and towns in which they take place. A festival like ours in Bristol is about a lot more than a well-known flower. While the hardy mum has a history deep within Bristol’s roots, the draw of a community-wide gathering is what’s important.
The mum itself decorates the doorsteps and porches of houses and apartments throughout the city. It’s quintessential. Mums are sold outside grocery stores, small local garden centers and big box stores alike. The very sale of these plants as a colorful fall decoration helps boost our local economy in the early fall months. Their presence on our thresholds symbolizes a cozy, welcoming New England vibe that locals and visitors can appreciate and identify with. Even small bursts of activity like this help our real estate market visually (decorate those listings, people!) and fiscally.
As for the festival itself, it’s a huge draw of revenue for a variety of local businesses and charities. The parade is a pinnacle moment for local performance groups from school bands to dance troupes, all of whose fees go into our economy. Their great reputations draw families to enroll their children in the respective programs. Vendors from sweet treats to jewelry to clothing show up to sell their wares. Local civic organizations come to let locals old and new learn about what Bristol has to offer… whether you want to volunteer, vote, run for a board, help one of our incredible museums and so much more.
The location on Memorial Boulevard highlights a beautiful attraction that our city has to offer, alongside one of our proudest pieces of architecture, whose future holds lots of bright possibilities for culture and growth in town. The carnival is a draw for families as well as (ahem) bored teenagers, who are looking for something fun to do on a cool weekend without getting into too much trouble… unless you count eating too much cotton candy and fried dough.
My nostalgia and sweet feelings toward this storied weekend might be too mushy for some. But I hope not. The whole gist of my ramblings this month really comes down to something that seems as simple as a harvest festival really can and does bring our community together and create a valuable asset for those currently living here and looking to live here in the future. Hope to see you there!
Sarah Johnson is a writer, marketing consultant and REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties in Farmington. She works with buyers, sellers and renters in Bristol and all over Central Connecticut. She is a 2002 graduate of Bristol Eastern High School and has volunteered on various boards and task forces in Bristol since 2011. Sarah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-462-3196. Follow her on Facebook at @SarahBJohnsonRealtor