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P.T. Barnum Festival unveils new ringmaster in Bridgeport

Dr. Camelia Lawrence, a breast surgeon at Hartford HealthCare, is the second woman, first mother and first woman of color to hold the position.

Tom Krosnowski and Abby Del Vecchio

Sep 1, 2023, 12:08 AM

Updated 322 days ago

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Bridgeport’s P.T. Barnum Festival has been a standard in community building since 1948, and leading the outreach efforts is no small task - it takes a ringmaster.
The festival unveiled its new ringleader Thursday at Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater. Dr. Camelia Lawrence, a breast surgeon at Hartford HealthCare, is the second woman, first mother and first woman of color to hold the position.
This is the festival’s 76th year honoring P.T. Barnum’s legacy in Bridgeport and its surrounding communities with outreach events and community spirit.
This year’s theme is inclusion, something Lawrence said Barnum stood for as a showman and politician.
“P.T. Barnum is known to be the greatest showman. He was known to bring folks together. It's about recreation and fun, but it's also creating an inclusive environment. So, I'm here to continue his legacy,” says Lawrence.
She says one of her goals is bringing the mission into the future.
“I do think there's an opportunity to sort of revitalize. We'd like to get more of the millennial crowd, the younger crowd involved. We’d like to continue the tradition. In order to do so, a succession plan is important, so I hope that we'll have more activities that cater to a younger crowd as well,” says Lawrence.
Lawrence has two children, ages ten and eight, and her new title as ringmaster will be in addition to her career as a breast surgeon.
“I'm dealing with men and women who are facing a great obstacle in their life, and if I can play a small part in helping them to overcome that challenge, it's a blessing to be able to do so," Lawrence says.


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