Shows to be held Friday at NYM VFW, Saturday at Finn Creek Festival

Photo by Dani Koenen
The 13th annual Finn Creek Festival will be hosting a pair of shows this weekend at the New York Mills Civic and Commerce Corn Feed on Friday and the Finn Creek Festival on Saturday.

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center has announced its 13th annual Kalevala Puppet Pageant, a large-scale community street theater experience taking place in New York Mills this weekend. 

All are invited to the two culminating performances on Friday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the NY Mills VFW during the NYM C&C Corn Feed and on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 12 p.m. at Finn Creek Open Air Museum during the Finn Creek Summer Festival.

  Each year, an original play is created based on characters and tales from the Kalevala, the Finnish book of legends. This narrated play is brought to life by local community members through larger-than-life puppet costumes, stilt-walking, songs and music by award-winning duo Curtis & Loretta of Minneapolis. This year’s performance will tell the story of “The Wise Little Bird,” and attendees will see familiar characters from years past, including Vainamoinen, the Dame of Pohjola, and Ukko the Thunder God along with his wife Rauni.

  Community members of all ages create the puppets, costumes and scenery, and learn to walk on stilts throughout two weeks of workshops leading up to the August 19-20 performances. Workshops began August 8 and continue for two weeks with participants gathering daily. All are welcome, with older youth and adults needed to help with the larger puppets. 

Acting, costume design, performance skills, and stilt walking are taught by Anne Sawyer, Creative Director and Puppeteer from Minneapolis, who has worked with In the Heart of the Beast, Artstart, Chicks on Sticks, and Lifeworks, along with Assistant Director Lisa Winter of Wadena, who is a long-time puppeteer and stilt-walker, and has been involved in the Puppet Pageant all 13 years.

  Community members can also get involved by attending evening workshops on August 8, 10, 15 and 16, all from 6-8 p.m. at The Barn/NY Mills Sculpture Park to help build puppets and props. 

Audience members have two opportunities to see this large-scale outdoor theater performance: first in NY Mills (following the NY Mills Civic & Commerce Corn Feed) at the NY Mills VFW Post 3289 on Friday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m., and second at Finn Creek Museum (during Finn Creek Summer Festival) on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 1:45 p.m.  Both performances are family friendly and open to all, and a freewill donation will be collected following both performances. The corn feed is free to attend. The Finn Creek Festival has a gate donation of $5/adult with children free.

  The Cultural Center would like to thank the many supporters of the Puppet Pageant, with special thanks to Arts Midwest for the grant support, and local main event sponsor, the NY Mills Civic & Commerce Association.

Call the Cultural Center at 385-3339 with questions, to volunteer, or to donate.