Free Puppet-Building Workshops on 9/8 and 9/9

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 life-size and over-life-size puppets of community role models for the Celebrate Mansfield Parade in Downtown Storrs. These free workshops will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Ballard Institute, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. Workshop participants will be invited to parade with the puppets as part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade on Sunday, Sept. 16 at noon, and then perform in an open-air community pageant. These events are all part of the 15th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival.

The theme for this year’s Ballard Institute parade and pageant is Sheroes, Heroes, and other Champions of the Mansfield Community, which will bring together groups and individuals from the Mansfield and UConn communities to celebrate the people and ideas we look up to. Working together with puppeteer Sara Peattie of the Boston-based Puppeteers Cooperative, groups and individuals will create over-life-sized masks and puppets representing important role models, objects, or ideas for their particular community. These puppets and masks will then be part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade on Sunday, Sept. 16 at noon (line-up begins at 10:30 a.m. at Farrell Field near the Post Office), and a Sheroes, Heroes, and Other Champions of the Mansfield Community Pageant performed at Betsy Paterson Square in Downtown Storrs after the parade.

Workshop leader Sara Peattie 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, but registration is requested. 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 or if you require accommodation to participate, 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 15th 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 Downtown Storrs. For more information about the Partnership, visit