Royal court crowned for this year's Barnum Festival

The four newest members of the 2014 Barnum Festival Royal Family were selected from Bridgeport, Stratford and Derby during a ceremony.

The royal court will play a key role in the 66th Barnum Festival, the annual salute to the life and achievements of P.T. Barnum, world famous entrepreneur and former mayor of Bridgeport.

The king and queen competition was sponsored by the Bridgeport Hospital Foundation. The Ernest and Joan Trefz Foundation will provide scholarships to the Royal Court.

The court

This year’s king is Benjamin Slowik of Derby High School. Monica Gorton of Bunnell High School in Stratford was crowned queen.

Shaun Hershier of Harding High School in Bridgeport and Andrea Albarella of Derby High School were named prince and princess.

The new royal family was chosen from a pool of 30 applicants from high schools in greater Bridgeport.

'Nurturing young people'

“P.T. Barnum prided himself in nurturing young people to the call of civic duty, entrepreneurship and helping neighbors,” said 2014 Barnum Festival Ringmaster Paul Timpanelli, chief executive officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. “It’s inspiring to participate in the bright future of our leaders of tomorrow.”

The contestants were interviewed by a panel of judges who chose the winners based on their records of academic leadership, enthusiasm and social skills. The judges were Karen DelVecchio of the Bridgeport Regional Business and Council; Carmen Colon, executive director of Alpha Community Services/YMCA; Deborah Thomas-Sims, representing the city of Bridgeport; and Shawna Hall, Bridgeport Hospital Employee of the Year. Barnum was one of the founders of Bridgeport Hospital.

Finding the court

The king and queen competition includes the solicitation of schools in the Bridgeport region to provide one candidate for king and one candidate for queen.

Candidates must be from the junior class, scholastically in the upper fifth of their class, demonstrate solid leadership abilities, and develop alliances necessary to achieve goals, as well as support fellow students in their academic, non-academic, and/or social endeavors.

The judges consider the participation of the candidate in their own school clubs and organizations as well as their participation in local community organizations. The extracurricular activities of the candidates are also considered, such as musical groups, sports activities and other groups.

 About the Barnum Festival

The Barnum Festival was established in 1948 to celebrate the life and times of P.T. Barnum and to commemorate the history of Bridgeport. The festival is dedicated to providing exciting family entertainment that enriches the community, embraces diversity and celebrates life.

Events produced through volunteers brings to the community the Champions on Parade, Wing Ding Parade for Children, “Got Talent” Vocal Competition, fireworks display at Seaside Park, and Great Street Parade.

For more information, visit or call 203-367-8495.