11th Annual Kalevala Puppet Pageant
Fri, Aug 16th in New York Mills
Sat, Aug 17th in Perham
Workshops begin Mon, Aug 5th!

The Puppet Pageant is an original large-scale street theater play based on stories from the Finnish national epic poem, The Kalevala. 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 5, 2019, leading up to the culminating performances on Friday & Saturday, August 16 & 17, 2019.

This year’s Pageant is titled “The Great Goblin Caper” and features many mythical Finnish creatures that you’re recognize from year’s past, along with a few new characters. Long ago in old Finland, there was a powerful witch named the Dame of Pohjola. She had a magic mill called the Sampo that could create untold wealth. One day, a crew of evil goblin pirates sailing near her shores hears of the Sampo. They devise a plan to get rich by sowing seeds of discord in Pohjola. Ukko the Thunder God is angered, and only Vainamoinen the Hero Bard can show the witch how she is being tricked.

Dance, music, acting, costume design, performance skills, and stilt walking is taught by Anne Sawyer, Creative Director and Puppeteer who has worked with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in Minneapolis, 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 older youth 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 Cultural Center in New York Mills 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 16, 2019 at the VFW in New York Mills, as well as at the Perham Pioneer Grounds as part of the Annual Pioneer Days Festival on Saturday August 17, 2019. We are grateful for these local partnerships!

Seeking participants, volunteers, and donations!
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 mache & painting fools
  • Kid wranglers (aka workshop helpers)
  • Stage manager
  • Backstage helpers (adults/mature teens to help kids during show)
  • Adults/teens to help stilters during afternoon practices (see schedule below)
  • Adult/teen performers for larger puppets (adult/teen participants are FREE!)

Materials Wish List:

  • Large pieces of solid-colored, light fabric (e.g. bed sheets, cotton broadcloth)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Newspaper
  • Brown paper bags
  • Plastic bags
  • Cereal boxes
  • Bamboo poles (8 foot)
  • Old bicycle inner tubes and tires
  • Plastic containers with lids (cottage cheese, large yogurt, or similar)
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Tarps
  • Duct tape
  • Masking tape
  • Paint brushes
  • Buckets
  • Tin foil
  • Plain white muslin (20 yards)
  • Electric fans
  • Healthy snacks for participants (daily morning workshops)

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 through Network for Good



Located @ The Barn, NYM Sculpture Park

  • August 5-9 (Mon-Fri) 9am-12pm: Daily Morning Workshops
  • August 12-15 (Mon-Thurs) 9am-12pm: Daily Morning Workshops
    • Wed. & Thurs. location TBD – may be VFW
  • August 14 (Wed) @ NOON: Transport all puppets, props, supplies etc. to NYM VFW (120 S Boardman Ave) — parent & volunteer assistance requested!
  • August 14 (Wed) 6-8pm *EVENING REHEARSAL* @ VFW
  • August 15 (Thurs) 6-8pm *DRESS REHEARSAL* @ VFW
  • August 16 (Fri) 5:30pm *CALL FOR PERFORMERS* @ VFW



  • August 5, 7 (Monday, Wednesday) 6-8pm @ The Barn
  • August 12,13 (Monday, Tuesday) 6-8pm @ The Barn


  • August 6 (Tuesday) 1-2:30pm @ The Barn
  • August 8 (Thursday) 1-2:30pm @ The Barn
  • August 13 (Tuesday) 1-2:30pm @ The Barn
  • August 15 (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: Children will NOT be supervised during the noon-1:00 lunch break between general workshops and stilting practice.


  • August 16 (Friday) at New York Mills VFW @ 7:00 p.m. in conjunction with NYM Corn Feed
    • NOTE: After Performance – Load all PP items for Perham performance
  • August 17 (Saturday) at Pioneer Grounds in Perham @ 3:00 p.m. in conjunction with Pioneer Days
    • Transfer all items & set up @ Pioneer Grounds ~10am (specifics TBD)
    • CALL FOR PERFORMERS @ 1:30pm @ Pioneer Grounds
NOTE: We will have pre-performance snacks Friday night & Saturday afternoon for all participants. We will also have snacks & water daily at workshops. If you would like to donate any healthy snack foods, we will gladly welcome them!


A round of applause and lots of gratitude to all the KIDS & PARENTS who do so much during these two weeks!

And last but certainly not least, a giant-puppet sized THANK YOU to these amazing 2019 Puppet Pageant sponsors and scholarship providers:

















…and to one amazing individual scholarship provider and super volunteer….. Dorothy Eskeli! Thanks Dot for all you do!


Want to see your name or logo here? Email betsy@kulcher.org to be added as a sponsor today!