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Peterborough tradition welcomes giant puppets


PETERBOROUGH — The Giant Puppet Parade has long been the centerpiece of the annual Children and the Arts Day Festival, so it is only fitting to celebrate puppets at the festival’s Puppet Palooza-themed 20th anniversary on Saturday.

“Even though the puppets didn’t start till 1997, it’s just a way to celebrate 20 years,” said Children and the Arts committee member Terry Reeves.

Organizers have scheduled several professional puppet performers as well as organized several school groups from area schools to perform puppet shows for the festival.

The festival actually starts Friday with the Massachusetts-based Tanglewood Marionettes performing “The Dragon King” at the Town House at 7 p.m.

Local high school students are joining the Bread and Puppet Theater of Vermont behind the Historical Society at 2 p.m. on Saturday to perform “Circus of the Possibilitarians.”

The Mariposa Museum is hosting The Crabgrass Puppet Theatre performing Lion & Mouse at 1:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The festival started in the spring of 1994 after Jeannie Connoly, Nancy Brown and Laura Hanson received a grant so Peterborough Elementary students could make a claymation film, on the condition the film was shared with the community.

So the three women created a small festival around the film showing at the local Peterborough Community Theatre.

From its humble beginnings the event has blossomed into an all-day celebration of children and art every May.

Reeves has been a volunteer from the start.

“This is a totally free and community supported event, and I think that’s the amazing thing about that it’s been this for 20 years. That’s a statement about this thing,” Reeves said. “It really means community cause it’s just amazing how this has been community supported financially, and people giving up windows, and space, and volunteer time. It’s an extraordinary community gathering. I’m surprised it’s still going and still community supported.”

The festival’s 20 years says, “This community supports children and this community supports art,” Reeves said.

Aside from vendors selling food the event is entirely free, she said. “We want to have people to come down and not have to pay anything expect for buying their lunch.”

The festival starts Saturday at 7:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast in the Unitarian Church hall and peaks at noon with the Giant Puppet Parade down Main and Grove streets.

Anyone can march in the parade and they are encouraged to create a giant puppet matching each year’s theme to march with.

“We never know what’s going to show up,” Reeves said of the puppet parades.

There are several events, performances and workshops scheduled downtown throughout the day till 3 p.m.

For a full schedule go online to www.childrenandthearts.org.

mpierce@newstote.com

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