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Famed Fairfield County Restaurateur Named 2018 Barnum Festival Ringmaster

Restaurateur Johnny Vazzano, third from right, is the 2018 Barnum Festival ringmaster.
Restaurateur Johnny Vazzano, third from right, is the 2018 Barnum Festival ringmaster. Photo Credit: Facebook

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Johnny Vazzano, co-owner of the popular Vazzy’s chain of restaurants across eastern Fairfield County, is the 70th annual Barnum Festival ringmaster.

The festival officially announced the 2018 ringmaster Friday, sparking congratulatory notes all over social media.

“Congrats, you look good in that red jacket!” one fan wrote on the Facebook page for The Original Vazzy’s.

Born and raised in Bridgeport, Vazzano attended St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

In 1993, he and his business partner Vin Noce opened Vazzy’s Brick Oven in Bridgeport — with a whopping six more Vazzy’s to follow from Shelton to Fairfield.

In 2011, he and another business partner, his cousin Larry LaConte, Jr., purchased the landmark Liedel’s of Stratford, reopening it as Vazzano’s Four Seasons. They later took over the classic Windmill Restaurant, now the Windmill Tavern, maintaining its title as the oldest neighborhood bar in the country.

In the last year alone, Vazzano and LaConte have opened two more eateries in Stratford’s Lordship neighborhood — Lordship Pizza and the Beach House Grill. Vazzano also operates Catamount Food Service with his sons.

In addition to his many business ventures, Vazzano is involved with Swim Across the Sound, the 911 Ride, Cardinal Shehan Center and the Marilyn Goldstone Foundation, among other nonprofits.

He serves on the board of directors of The McGivney Center and Homes for the Brave and he has hosted a major holiday food and toy drive for the past 24 years.

Vazzano and his wife, Heidi, live in Trumbull where they raised their three grown sons — John, Alex and Rick.

The Barnum Festival is a seasonal celebration of the City of Bridgeport and world-renowned showman P.T. Barnum. Events include concerts, a parade, fireworks and other family-friendly traditions.

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