Free Army Ant and Ant Guest Puppet-Building Workshops, 9/9 and 9/10

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will once again offer fall community puppet-building workshops with acclaimed Boston puppeteer Sara Peattie, to design and build over-life-size puppets of army ants and their associated species (“guests”) for the Celebrate Mansfield Parade and a special Army Ant Pageant with the Hartford Hot Several Brass Band in Storrs, Connecticut. These free workshops will take place Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Ballard Institute located at 1 Royce Circle in Storrs Center. Workshop participants will be invited to parade with the Army Ant puppets as part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade on Sunday, September 17 at noon (line-up begins at 10:30 a.m. at Farrell Field near the Post Office), and then perform in the Ant Migration Pageant, an open-air community spectacle directed by Sara Peattie that will use the puppets and music by the Hartford Hot Several to tell the exciting story of army ants and their “guests.” The Parade is a part of the 14th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival.

This year’s workshop theme is part of AntU, an endeavor at UConn designed to involve a variety of academic disciplines to engage a broad audience in the wonders of the complex biological systems of army ants and their hundreds of associated species (“guests”). It is an idea borne out of an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Collections in Support of Biological Research program to the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB), in partnership with the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History (CSMNH), to preserve and curate the Carl W. and Marian E. Rettenmeyer Army Ant Guest Collection. This world-class collection of over two million army ants and their guests is the result of 50 years of careful, detailed fieldwork in Central and South America by the Rettenmeyers. To learn more about AntU, visit

Workshop leader Sara Peattie, whose work is on display at the Ballard Institute in Obstreperous Puppets: Puppeteers Cooperative until October 8, 2017, is known for her dramatic creations that have become a central feature of community parades and pageants across the United States. Long a mainstay of Boston First Night festivities and the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in New York City, Sara Peattie’s work—through her Boston-based Puppeteers Cooperative company and Puppet Free Library—combines community participation; simple, cheap, and practical puppet-building techniques; and a brilliant design sense to allow community members of all ages to take part in the age-old pleasures of participatory puppet performance in public spaces.

No experience is necessary to participate in these free community puppet-building workshops with Sara Peattie. Participants can come for one or both days and are not required to stay for the entire time. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. To register for the workshop, contact the Ballard Institute at or 860.486.8580.

This community puppet project is sponsored by the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut and the Mansfield Downtown Partnership, Inc. For more information about the 14th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival, visit

The Mansfield Downtown Partnership is an independent, non-profit organization comprised of the Town of Mansfield, the University of Connecticut, and individual business members and residents. The Partnership seeks to foster the continued development, management, and promotion of Storrs Center – a vibrant and economically successful community in the heart of Mansfield. For more information about the Partnership, visit