Nashville Public Library presents International Puppet Festival

Bret Wilson of Wishing Chair productions entertains at the Grand Opening of the Music City Center. photo: Cass Teague

Bret Wilson of Wishing Chair productions entertains at the Grand Opening of the Music City Center.
photo: Cass Teague

The Nashville Public Library’s 2013 Nashville International Puppet Festival is a free, family-friendly event at the main branch of the Nashville Public Library. The festival will take place Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23, and will feature puppetry performances, workshops, activities and a parade, with a wide variety of entertainment for all ages. Renowned puppeteers and performers from all over the world will make their way to Nashville for the festival, which will transform the library and surrounding area into a vibrant, family-friendly carnival featuring puppet performances, live music and an outdoor street fair.

“We have a top-tier library system, and this festival will be like no other happening anywhere else in the country this summer,” said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “This one-of-a-kind festival will showcase our library and our city to 25,000 visitors from around the country and around the world.”

Nashville’s first International Puppet Festival in 2008 attracted more than 18,000 people. New this year is the Puppet Festival Parade, Saturday, June 22, at 9 am led by Grand Marshall Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. The parade will fill the Arts District with music, performers, and puppets, including a float celebrating 75 years of puppetry in Davidson County. The parade will wind down Church Street through the Arts District and feature performers with stilts, unicycles, floats, vintage cars and puppets.

“Whether you are 45 years old or five years old, you will enjoy the International Puppet Festival,” said library director Kent Oliver. “Between puppet shows, workshops, food, music, the parade and evening performances, you will connect with something. And that is what we are all about—offering services that connect everyone to reading.”

Library puppet shows are free but require a ticket for entry to be picked up on the day of the show at the downtown library. For a convenience fee of $2.50, tickets may be reserved in advance online at www.nashvillepuppetfestival.com

Church Street Park will be home to a 25-foot tall maypole and a 10-foot tall puppet named Danke. Food and beverages will be available, including: local food trucks, selling healthy, and kid-friendly items. The Church Street Park Music Stage will host free, non-ticketed musical shows throughout the weekend.

Inside the Library grounds, relax in the Courtyard and enjoy a European Street Festival, with uni-cyclists, jugglers, stilt walkers, face painters, and balloon artists. Enjoy free, non-ticketed performances by Wishing Chair Productions, the library’s resident puppet troupe. You can even make your own puppet in the Children’s Craft Room. Craft supplies are provided.

Additional fund-raising benefit events: Thursday, June 20, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the debut performance of ‘String City: Nashville’s Tradition of Music and Puppetry’ from 7 pm till 9 pm. Saturday, June 22, TPAC presents a special performance of ‘Suspended Animation’ by Philip Huber (Disney’s Oz, the Great and Powerful). Tickets to each show are $30 in advance; $40 day of show, including a reception before the show.