13th Annual Community Theater Event
Friday 8/19/22 @ NYM Corn Feed
Saturday 8/20/22 @ Finn Creek Fest
Workshops begin Mon, Aug 8, 2022!

The Puppet Pageant is an original large-scale street theater play based on stories from the Finnish national epic poem, the Kalevala.

This annual community theater program brings people together to learn a wide variety of artistic skills including acting, stilt-walking, Finnish culture and heritage, and make connections with fellow community members and artists.

Workshops begin August 8th; details below.  There will be two public performances of the Kalevala Puppet Pageant:

  • Friday, August 19 @ 7pm @ NYM VFW Post 3289 @ NYM Civic & Commerce Corn Feed
  • Saturday, August 20 @ 12pm @ Finn Creek Open Air Museum @ Finn Creek Festival

Performances are free to attend and open to all!  Freewill donations will be collected at the performances to help cover the costs of this enriching community experience. If you are interested in sponsoring this event and/or making a donation to provide a scholarship for a youth participant, email betsy@kulcher.org or give us a call at 218-385-3339. Thank you for supporting our youth and this local community program!

Meet our talented and experienced creative team.

Thanks to these artists for teaching and guiding our community of budding artists each summer!

Artistic Director Anne Sawyer is an artist specializing in puppetry and stilting. She has worked in Minneapolis over the last twenty years with groups such as In the Heart of the Beast, Artstart, Chicks on Sticks, and Lifeworks. She is the author of two books for children: Nalah and the Pink Tiger and Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City, and a picture book for grown-ups, teens and tweens called Mars on Life (2020). This is her eleventh year of directing the Pageant.



Assistant Director Lisa Winter loves doing puppets in New York Mills and Wadena. Her grandfather made puppets for his kids and so she is carrying on a family tradition. She recently did a puppet show called “Cats in the Kitchen” – based on a true story of her own mischievous cats. She has helped lead the NYM Puppet Pageant since its inception.


Music Directors Curtis Teague & Loretta Simonet make up “Curtis & Loretta” and have been named “Best Acoustic Performers of the Twin Cities” by City Pages. This husband and wife duo’s extraordinary harmonies, creativity, and proficiency on a parade of stringed instruments help bring the Puppet Pageant to life. Curtis & Loretta have been involved in the Puppet Pageant for many years.


Our volunteers make the world go round.

Want to join the fun? Volunteers are ALWAYS welcome, and there are lots of ways to get involved!

  • Like working with kids?  Guide children during our morning workshops!  (Weekdays 9am-12pm, Aug 8-18)
  • Need a creative outlet?  Join us at evening workshops to help create puppet and props!  (See dates below)
  • Love to sew?  Create or repair costumes on your own time!  (Contact info@kulcher.org or 218-385-3339)
  • Have a big vehicle?  Help us pack & move puppet & props from the Barn to the VFW!  (Wed Aug 17 @ noon)
  • Want to donate some stuff?  Let’s turn your trash into a treasure!  (See wish list below)
  • Maybe a donation is more your thing?  Monetary donations are necessary to help keep costs low for participants.  (Donation links below)

Big thanks to ALL the community members who help make this event happen, especially ALL the awesome parents, and our gracious event space partners: City of NYM (The Barn/Sculpture Park — workshop location), NYM VFW (Friday 8/19/22 performance), and Finn Creek Museum (Saturday 8/20/22 performance).


Thanks to all sponsors + there’s still time to support this community experience!

Thanks to Arts Midwest, National Endowment for the Arts, and New York Mills Civic & Commerce Association for being our main event sponsors for the 2022 Kalevala Puppet Pageant. We are seeking additional local business, organizational, and individual sponsors/donors.

All supporters will be acknowledged on our website (with logo and link, if provided), at the performances, and on any printed marketing materials (pending print timing).  If you are interested in supporting this event, please contact betsy@kulcher.org or call 218-385-3339.  Thank you!

This engagement is supported by the Arts Midwest GIG Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Minnesota State Arts Board.


Big thanks goes out to these local event sponsors:





Big thanks goes out to these local venue partners:



Be Part of the Show!

Adults and youth ages 5 & up (children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by an adult or older sibling) are invited to participate. There are two weeks of workshops beginning August 8, 2022, leading up to the culminating performances on Friday & Saturday, August 19 & 20, 2022.

As usual, this year’s Pageant will feature many mythical Finnish creatures that you may recognize from year’s past, as well as a few new characters too.

Dance, music, acting, costume design, performance skills, and stilt walking are all taught by Anne Sawyer, Creative Director, along with Assistant Director Lisa Winter of Wadena.

During the two weeks of workshops, participants will create and build puppets and props of all sizes in addition to learning the story and performance of the narrated play. Stilt walking will be included again this year as an added element to the performance (optional for youth ages 8 & older and adult participants).

Cost to participate is $50/child with a $100/family max. In order to encourage adult participation, there is no fee for adults or older teens willing to help with younger participants. Scholarships are available based on need; no one will be turned away based on an inability to pay. Volunteers gladly welcomed!

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center produces this unique community theater experience and is pleased to partner with the New York Mills Civic & Commerce Association to present it at its Annual Corn Feed on Friday, August 19, 2022 at the VFW in New York Mills, as well as at Finn Creek Museum as part of the Annual Finn Creek Festival on Saturday August 20, 2022. We are grateful for these local partnerships!

Seeking participants, volunteers, and donations – COME JOIN THE FUN!

Call the Center to register as a participant or volunteer, or fill out form at the bottom of this post. See below for specific volunteer and donation requests. Questions? Call 218-385-3339.

Volunteers Desired:

  • Sewers
  • Carpenters/handy folk
  • Papier mâché & painting fools (get your hands dirty!)
  • Kid wranglers (aka workshop helpers)
  • Backstage helpers (adults/mature teens to help kids during show)
  • Adults/teens to help stilters during afternoon practices & performances (see schedule below)
  • Adult/teen performers for larger puppets (adult/teen participants are FREE!)

Supplies Wish List:

  • Bubble wrap
  • Balloons
  • Clean single-ply cardboard (large boxes)
  • Brown paper bags
  • Cereal boxes
  • Plastic gallon milk jugs
  • Old bicycle inner tubes and tires
  • Water-based house paint (no oil-base, please)
  • Plastic containers with lids (cottage cheese type or similar)
  • Craft doo-dads such as: pipe cleaners, pom-poms, buttons
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Wooden lathe for puppet sticks (30 sticks)
  • Duct tape & masking tape

Support the Puppet Pageant Financially!

Provide a scholarship to a child for just $50; $100 buys 3 gallons of acrylic paint; or cover the actual cost for 1 child to participate for $300. ALL donations welcome!

Click below, stop by during our Open Hours (Wed-Thurs 10-7, Fri 10-5, Sat 10-3), or send us a check (PO Box 246, NYMills, MN 56567). All donors will be recognized in our performance program (unless requested otherwise). THANK YOU for supporting this interactive & engaging creative community experience!

Donate to support the 2022 Puppet Pageant >


Subject to change – please check back to confirm details and watch FB for weather announcements.

Located @ The Barn, NYM Sculpture Park

  • August 8-12 (Mon-Fri) 9am-12pm: Daily Morning Workshops
  • August 15-18 (Mon-Thurs) 9am-12pm: Daily Morning Workshops
    • Thurs. location TBD – may be VFW
  • August 17 (Wed) @ NOON: Transport all puppets, props, supplies etc. to NYM VFW (120 S Boardman Ave) — parent & volunteer assistance requested!
  • August 17 (Wed) 6-8pm *EVENING REHEARSAL* @ VFW
  • August 18 (Thurs) 6-8pm *DRESS REHEARSAL* @ VFW
  • August 19 (Fri) 5:30pm *CALL FOR PERFORMERS* @ VFW (performance @ 7pm)
  • August 20 (Sat) 10:30am *CALL FOR PERFORMERS* @ Finn Creek (performance @ 12pm)


(Family friendly!! All ages welcome, including adults and CHILDREN ACCOMPANIED BY ADULTS please)

  • August 8, 10 (Monday, Wednesday) 6-8pm @ The Barn
  • August 15, 16 (Monday, Tuesday) 6-8pm @ The Barn



  • August 9 (Tuesday) 1-2:30pm @ The Barn
  • August 11 (Thursday) 1-2:30pm @ The Barn
  • August 16 (Tuesday) 1-2:30pm @ The Barn
  • August 18 (Thursday) 1-2:30pm @ The VFW

*Stilt walking open to ages 8 and up. Stilters should bring a pair of jeans and sturdy shoes (hiking boots are best) with socks to put on for each practice.

Note to Parents: Please note the noon-1:00 lunch break (unsupervised) between general workshops and stilting practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and make arrangements for your children.


PERFORMANCE DETAILS for participants:

  • August 19 (Friday) at New York Mills VFW @ 7:00 p.m. in conjunction with NYM Corn Feed
    • NOTE: After Performance – Load all PP items for Saturday performance
  • August 20 (Saturday) at Finn Creek Museum (6 miles south of NYM) @ 12:00 p.m. in conjunction with Finn Creek Festival
    • Transfer all items & set up @ Finn Creek ~9am (specifics TBD)
    • CALL FOR PERFORMERS @ 10:30am @ Finn Creek Open Air Museum
NOTE: We would like to have snacks for daily workshops and performances. If you would like to donate any healthy snack foods (bonus points for locally grown goodies!), we will gladly welcome them! Please email info@kulcher.org or call 218-385-3339.