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Cultural Center to host 10th annual Kalevala Puppet Pageant

Stilt walking has been part of the learning process for this year's Kalevala Puppet Pageant, which will take place this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 17-18 in New York Mills and Perham. (Submitted photo)1 / 4
Anne Sawyer is once again serving as creative director and puppeteer for the 10th annual Kalevala Puppet Pageant, which will be performed this Thursday and Friday, Aug. 17-18 at the New York Mills VFW and Perham Pioneer Grounds, respectively. (Submitted photo)2 / 4
These colorful masks were designed by participants in the 10th Annual Kalevala Puppet Pageant, which will be performed this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 17-18 in New York Mills and Perham. (Submitted photo)3 / 4
These workshop participants are wearing crowns designed for the 10th Annual Kalevala Puppet Pageant, which will be performed this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 17-18 in New York Mills and Perham. (Submitted photo)4 / 4

NEW YORK MILLS — The Cultural Center in New York Mills will host the community's 10th annual Kalevala Puppet Pageant this weekend, with two large-scale street theater performances set for Friday, Aug. 17 in NYM and Saturday, Aug. 18 in Perham.

The Puppet Pageant workshops began on Aug. 6 and since then, more than 25 community members have been working to build large-scale puppets and props to prepare for the 10th annual Puppet Pageant performances. Dance, music, acting, costume design, performance skills, and stilt walking have been 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.

Each year, an original play is written by Sawyer based on characters and tales from the Kalevala, the Finnish book of legends. This year's performance tells "The Tale of Ukko the Thunder God." In old Finland, Ukko the Thunder God and All-Father values hospitality and kindness. One day he goes in disguise as a beggar to the halls of the Witch of Pohjola. He asks for food and shelter for his family. Despite her magic and her wealth, the Witch refuses him. So the Thunder God decides to teach her a lesson she won't forget.

Audience members have two opportunities to see the Pageant this year: First in New York Mills (following the NYM Civic & Commerce Corn Feed) at VFW Post 3289 on Friday, Aug.17 at 7 p.m., and the second in Perham (during Pioneer Days) at the Pioneer Grounds on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. Both performances are free to attend, very family friendly, and open to all.

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