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Trumbull Day: a History

Started in 1972, the celebration has been bolstered by the Westfield Trumbull Mall. It had been canceled last year.

Trumbull Day was born out of the town's celebrations during its 175th Anniversary in 1972. Originally called "Trumbull's Family Day", there was a parade and a picnic which was held at on Aug. 6, 1972. A large fireworks display was held on July 4, 1972, at open space in Tashua, and drew more than 12,000 people; the largest single-day crowd ever gathered in Trumbull history at the time.  

The family day picnic organized for Trumbull's 175th anniversary in 1972 was a very popular event destination attracting around 10,000 people. Thousands of hot dogs were sold that day as town residents participated in old fashioned races and field events.

"Trumbull Family Day Outing" was so popular, in fact, that it was decided to organize it again the following year; a local tradition had taken root.

During the 1970s, under First Selectman James Butler, "Trumbull Day" grew by leaps and bounds. The many planned activities were now put into the hands of neighborhood groups and several local civic organizations as well as numerous volunteers. Fireworks were introduced for the first time at Trumbull Day during this time. 

Fourth of July fireworks had been held for years at the Nichols Improvement Association field compliments of a local resident. The actor Will Geer, who played the prosecuting attorney in the acclaimed 1967 film “In Cold Blood” and Grandpa Walton in the hit 1970s TV show, traveled from California every year to see them. 

By the mid 1970s, the large midway made its introduction at Trumbull Day and for the first time there were paid musical acts for entertainment. The family outing day had changed into a large public event for town residents as well as drawing area residents. By the late 1970s, crowds of over 35,000 were very common and Trumbull Day had quickly become a major event in the area. In the 1980s, Trumbull Day exploded in popularity and crowds of over 40,000 people were commonplace occurrences. As many as 100 volunteers, working year-round, were required to plan organize and run Trumbull Day. 

In 1990, the Trumbull Town Council formed the “Trumbull Day Commission,” placing the operation of this major event under the control of nine volunteer commissioners that were given the task of ensuring financial accountability as well as help the event to grow in attendance. In 1995, Trumbull Day actually established the Guinness Book of World Record by organizing the largest saxophone band in history to honor President Bill Clinton. The commission also established an international food court for the first time with three dozen commercial restaurants in the midway that year. 

By the late 1990s, crowds grew to exceed 50,000 people for this event. Trumbull Day had become the largest single day event in Fairfield County. In 2010, due to shrinking revenues and growing costs to the town, Trumbull Day was not be held at Hillcrest Middle School grounds for the first time in its 38-year history.

Tom Pieragostini is a lifetime member of the and has spent hundreds of hours researching town history.

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