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Puppet pageant, corn feed in New York Mills Friday

Puppet Pageant cast members Edan and Nolan Cassidy show off one of the many life-size-and larger puppets that will bring the Kalevala to life. The pageant is set for 7 p.m. this Friday, Aug. 15. (Submitted photo)

New York Mills’ annual Puppet Pageant is this Friday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m., outdoors behind the Cultural Center at 24 Main Ave. North.

Anne Sawyer-Aitch is providing artistic direction to this year’s Puppet Pageant, with the help of a wonderful cast of community volunteers, kids, and parents.

As in the past several years, this original play is drawn from the Finnish national epic poem, the Kalevala.

The title is “The Battle of the Bards,” and, as many of the stories from the Kalevala, tells the tale of a titanic battle between good and evil, with bigger-than-life trolls and water puppets and a mosquito who gets under the skin of the hero, Vainamoinen and the wicked witch, the Dame of Pohjola.

The Pageant brings a major thread of the cultural heritage of the region into a contemporary drama each year.

Adding to the large scale puppets and the stilt-walking children this year will be a community chorus singing traditional Finnish songs in English translation.

Each year’s drama is new, and the story is primarily told through movement and dance rather than words. Curtis & Loretta, well known folk musicians from Minneapolis, will provide live music to accompany the production, and Anne Sawyer-Aitch gives enough of the story to clue the audience into the action. This is Anne’s 4th Pageant and the 4th for Curtis & Loretta too.

The Pageant began six years ago when Cultural Center director Jamie Robertson brought a version of the large-scale street theater Puppet Pageant held in Grand Marais at the summer solstice to the Center. The first two pageants were directed by Annie Katsura Rollins and music was provided by Cultural Center board member and singer/composer Elisa Korenne.

The Pageant is open to everyone at no charge and is made possible by the members of the Cultural Center and by the generous support of the New York Mills Civic and Commerce Association.

Prior to the pageant, be sure to stop by the annual Corn Feed; free sweet corn will be served in NYM’s Central Park from 4 to 7 p.m. Melon slices will also be available for sale from the growers of the New York Mills Farmers Market. Details are available at