Puppet workshop prepares for Celebrate Mansfield Weekend

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Mansfield - posted Wed., Sep. 21, 2011
UConn graduate student Nicole Hartigan shows off the body for a chicken puppet that she just completed, at the community puppet workshop on Sept. 18. Photos by Melanie Savage.
UConn graduate student Nicole Hartigan shows off the body for a chicken puppet that she just completed, at the community puppet workshop on Sept. 18. Photos by Melanie Savage.

This year, the puppets created during the community puppet-building workshop at the Mansfield Community Center focus on the agricultural history of the local area. The workshop, held Sept. 17 and 18, produced a number of large, colorful farm animals, including a cow, an ox, a sheep, a chicken, a horse and a pig. Last year’s creations, focusing on the area’s history of silk production (which included giant silk worms), will be brought out of storage and join the new puppets for this year’s parade during Celebrate Mansfield Weekend.

This is the third year that the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will be involved with puppets in the parade. In 2009, they borrowed puppets from Sara Peattie’s Puppet Collaborative in Boston. “But then last year we wanted to do something specific to the history of Mansfield,” said Ballard Director John Bell.

Some of the puppets, such as the ox, which features a head-span in excess of 6 feet, require multiple operators, so the Institute would love to have assistance from the community the day of the parade. “Adults and/or kids,” said Bell. “No previous experience required.” To assist with the puppets, show up behind the Storrs Post Office at 11 a.m. the day of the parade, Sunday, Sept. 25. The parade runs from the post office to Storrs Road to Bolton Road, and is free and open to the public. This year’s parade will feature the UConn marching band, E.O. Smith High School band, floats, dancers, police and fire trucks, athletic teams, bicyclists, a color guard, animals, the traditional “Tykes on Trikes,” and more, in addition to the puppets, according to the Mansfield Downtown Partnership. The parade steps off at noon.

Other events planned for the 2011 Celebrate Mansfield weekend include music at the market on Saturday, Sept. 24. Mansfield’s own Seldom Heard will perform at the Storrs Farmers’ Market at its usual time and location, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Town Hall parking lot.

On Sunday, the parade is followed by the eighth annual Mansfield Festival on the Green, from noon to 5 p.m. at E.O. Smith High School. See the town website at www.mansfieldct.gov under “events” for more information about the festival, and for other events planned for Celebrate Mansfield Weekend.


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