Appalachian Puppet Pageant

NEW: Check out this beautiful video piece that East TN PBS put together about Cattywampus & the 2017 Appalachian Puppet Pageant here.     

(section about the parade begins at 17 mins. in)

The Appalachian Puppet Pageant is an East Tennessee inspired community puppet parade, bringing together members of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate the local ecology and rich culture of our region through the visual and performing arts.  

Thank you to everyone for helping create an amazing inaugural parade on  Sunday, May 21st,  2017  in East Knoxville!

We would like to give an especially big thank you to the sponsors that made this year’s first giant puppet parade possible! Thank you to Aries Energy, MagPies Bakery, Heliotropic Healing, the Muse Knoxville, the Birdhouse, and Burning Man Global Arts.


Print off a free PDF version of this awesome parade save-the-date coloring sheet to decorate at home!

We can’t wait to start planning next year’s parade and hope you will join us! To receive updates about the 2018 parade and find out more about volunteer opportunities, please sign up for our parade newsletter here.

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Why a Parade?

The Appalachian Puppet Pageant seeks to strengthen community in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee and foster community-involvement in the arts through creating and playing together. Using the vehicle of artistic collaboration, we want to invite dialogue amongst all of our community’s voices, while also providing an opportunity for these voices to tell their stories of “place” and “landscape.” We invite community members to create puppets, masks, and costumes rooted in the local ecology and stories of this region, as well as the culture of love, creativity, and mutual dependence we wish to foster in southern Appalachia.

Community members will be the driving force of this parade, crafting both individual and collaborative works of art and then joining together in celebration and play to share these living works of art with the rest of the community. The parade itself will engage its participants and viewers, through all of their senses, as we create a living, breathing art exhibit and take it to the streets of Knoxville.

Why Puppets?

The medium of puppetry, specifically big puppets is an innately collaborative form of art. Creating puppets requires hours of construction and multiple hands, thus making it a perfect artistic medium for cultivating community. For many of us, the word “puppet” may conjure the image of a marionette or a sock with googly eyes. The world of puppetry arts, however, is a broad one and includes a wide range of styles and sizes, including backpack mounted puppets, gigantic parade style puppets, rod puppets, masks, costumes, etc. Simply defined a “puppet” is an inanimate object that is brought to life or animated by a human.  Materials can include bamboo, cardboard, paint, metal, fabric, papier mache, and whatever else your heart, mind, and hands can dream up. For this parade, we simply ask that all of your creations be handmade and people-powered. Our “Resources” page  is filled with images, templates, and instructions to get you started.

2017 Parade Theme:  SYNERGY

The word “synergy” literally comes from Greek roots meaning “working together.” It’s defined as the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.  In the living world, synergistic relationships create new possibilities and properties emerge that could never have been predicted and that the individual parts did not possess. As we come together to play and make, as you design your puppets and costumes, we invite you to honor the power and beauty that can emerge when we collaborate- when we recognize that our liberations and our well-being as a planet, a species, and a community are all intertwined. We invite you to look to the natural world we are a part of, as well as our human community for inspiration.

Cattywampus Puppet Council and the Appalachian Puppet Pageant seek to strengthen community and achieve peace and justice through creating and playing together. We hold diversity itself as a value and nurture awareness of true community by welcoming people of differing races, ethnic origins, cultures, genders, ages, abilities, languages, economic and social backgrounds, sexualities, gender identities and expressions, political beliefs and religions, family styles and nationalities. We aim to create a safe, accepting and respectful environment where we can learn and grow together, honoring and embracing our individual and collective humanity.