Puppets Up! shows the charm and community spirit of Mississippi Mills (Almonte) at its best

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by Edith Cody-Rice

Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival once again delighted audiences young and old with its innovative puppet productions and superb street entertainment. Mill Street  lit up on Saturday and Sunday with  the smiling faces of excited children.The street was transformed into a great theatre with the performance tents and the shop windows sporting painted theatre curtains.

Puppet Troupes from as near as Gatineau and Montreal and as far away as the Czech Republic, Toulouse France and Calgary Alberta performed their magic. Neil Corp, sponsor of the festival was out in force, handing out practical paper fans to use in the tents which can get hot. All of the tent hosts duly thanked Neil Corp Homes, International Power Canada, the Ontario Arts Counsel, the Canada Council,  the town of Mississippi Mills and Heritage Canada (not to forget the angels) whose contributions made this festival possible.

The weather for both days of the festival was unexpectedly perfect (despite weather predictions) with only a quick shower on Sunday at the end of the day.  The sun shone on the Puppets Up parades!! Some afficionados will recall last year when the parade rolled down the street in a driving rainstorm.

Attendance was excellent and the downtown street was crowded with lots of happy people of all ages who seemed to be really enjoying themselves.  Many of the theatres had to put up their “Sorry, Show is Full” signs and the wide variety of theatre shows this year seemed to have am appeal for adults and children.

All day long the main street was filled with the sounds of  music, laughter and heckling from those crazy balcony puppets who are quite irrepressible!!

The stores and food vendors seemed to do well during the days of the festival.

Artistic director Noreen Young  and the Puppets Up board of directors offer a big thanks to Jeff Banks of JBArts store on Mill Street who painted so many of the colourful store windows himself!!  His artwork makes the street come alive.

Louise Blais of Aylmer expressed the general feeling when she wrote to Puppets Up to congratulate it on the festival. She praised its size and walkability, the economy ($20 for as many shows as one wanted to see as well as street entertainment) and the affordable wares on offer by merchants. She has never been to Almonte before and vows to return to this “charming town”. The community spirit particularly struck her and it was certainly in evidence. Puppets Up! involves more than 200 volunteers who serve as directors, tent hosts, ticket sellers, guides, technicians, clean up personnel, security, parking attendants, shuttle drivers, financial whizes and perform a multitude of the other duties necessary to the festival. Each festival is a full year in the making.

Local Almonte resident Brent Eades created this slide show of the festival. Thank you Brent.