As the more ardent puppetry fans among you may already know, the Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival has been cancelled for this year. This is the first such cancellation since its first incarnation in 2005. It would not be overstating the case to say that this has knocked the entire Ontarian puppetry community off balance. The festival was created for the general public, especially family audiences, and I find myself wondering just how many people were introduced to the art of puppetry thanks to Almonte’s now-famous festival. What percentage of the province’s population saw their first puppet show there? Determining that would make for a worthwhile study!
The festival quickly became a “family reunion” of sorts for the puppetry community from within and without the province, a relatively fixed point on the calendar when fewer and fewer such points exist.
There have been heartfelt expressions of grief and confusion. There have also been well-intentioned but ill-informed calls for the festival to be “saved.” As the festival staff themselves admit, they need “some time to think and refocus.” I want to honour their wish. I urge you to visit their website to learn more about why the festival has been cancelled. I am not here to dwell on that, nor am I here to make recommendations for the future (at least not yet).
What I am here to do is to (re)share with you some of the articles that I wrote for the festival in its wilder early years. The Internet was a very different place back then. These articles could still be buried somewhere inside the festival’s website, but they do seem to have disappeared. My ego soars at the thought of these articles being accessible again—although reading over all of that old writing may well stall my ascent—but honestly, the primary purpose is to raise awareness of what the festival has been in the hope of sparking a discussion about what it could be.