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A festival with a Finnish flair

Focus file photo Kids and adults help make costumes and par-ticipate in the puppet pageant every year.1 / 3
Focus file photo Large-scale puppets are handmade especially for the puppet pageant, which is inspired by the Finnish national epic poem, the Kalevala. 2 / 3
Focus file photo New York Mills goes through truckloads of corn at the annual Corn Feed. 3 / 3

New York Mills’ summer festival with a Finnish flair is just around the corner.

Sponsored by the town’s Civic and Commerce Association, the New York Mills Corn Feed and Puppet Pageant will take place this Friday evening, Aug. 16.

The event is organized by the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and is free to all ages.

“It’s a longstanding community event,” said Jamie Robertson, director of the cultural center. “It’s a time when the community businesses give back, and there’s free corn on the cob and rides for kids, and games, and people set up booths in central park.”

The corn feed will start at 4 p.m. in Central Park and will last until 7 p.m., Robertson said, at which point it will make way for the puppet pageant in the back of the cultural center.

The pageant is a relatively recent addition to the event, he said.

“About five years ago, we started the puppet pageant.  It’s an original theater production that’s put together by our visiting artist, Anne Sawyer-Aitch, from Minneapolis,” he said.

Sawyer-Aitch will spend two weeks before the pageant in a residency program for the cultural center, during which she will make the puppets. The puppets are all “large-scale,” said Robertson, and are made with the help of NY Mills residents.

The show itself will be inspired by Kalevala, the Finnish national epic poem, with a “special new feature for the story line” that Robertson said “will be woven into the Kalevala story line this year” and is “related to an event in recent history here, for the region.”

He was reluctant to go into specifics about the pageant’s new wrinkle, so as not to spoil it.

In addition to the corn feed, the NY Mills Fire Department will be having a car wash, free swimming will be offered at the city pool, and a performance by the band Curtis and Loretta will take place behind the Cultural Center following the pageant.

“It’s just kind of a community carnival event,” Robertson said.