Popular puppet festival in Almonte cancelled

The curtains are closing on Almonte’s popular puppet festival after 12 theatrical years.

The Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival has been cancelled due to a steady decline in all forms of revenue, including ticket sales, grants and sponsorships, according to festival’s Board of Directors.

Chair of the board, Allan Martin, said the festival costs $150-thousand to run each year. Rather than risk a ‘lousy festival’ or running into debt, the group made the difficult decision to cancel this year.

“There is heavy competition for grant money, and we haven’t had a title sponsor, a large corporate sponsor, in three years and that takes a big hit,” Martin said.

An award-winning puppeteer and puppet builder, the festival’s Artistic Director, Noreen Young, said the festival was created to celebrate puppetry, and believes it has accomplished that. Young estimates about 12 to 15-thousand people attended the festival annually, which included talent from all around the world.

While Young is sad to see the festival shut down, she said it ended on a very good note.

“There were three beautiful days for the festival last year, and seeing all the people having such a great time and everything was running smoothly by that time, and I just felt really, really happy,” Young said. 

The cancellation will be felt by the town that relied on this event for their summer tourism. Young hopes the festival has left an impression in people’s minds, and they continue to visit Almonte for its charm.

The final message posted on the festival website reads 'Puppets Up! will be back... but maybe in a different form."