Almonte festival cuts the cord after 12 years |

Nearly 100 puppets formed a solemn gathering in an Almonte basement Monday, perhaps still speechless from the news that the Puppets Up! festival, which has entertained families for the past dozen years, has been cancelled.

Even Don Cherry was silent, if you can imagine.

Jacob Bluejay and Gloria the gopher, fixtures on CBC’s Under the Umbrella Tree in the 1980s and ’90s, who both had taken part in every festival parade since the inaugural one in 2005, sat disconsolately.

Granni, who starred in Hi Diddle Day, a popular children’s puppet TV show from the 1960s and ’70s, silently pondered her uncertain future, while another Hi Diddle Day alumni, Basil the beagle (“with an eye like an eagle, and a nose that’s ever so keen”), reacted to the news with the sort of optimism one might expect of a beagle puppet.

“Well, itth thad, you know,” he said in his familiar lisp — brought to life for the afternoon by the long arm and rubbery vocal cords of puppeteer and Puppets Up! co-founder Noreen Young.

“We’re just hanging around here feeling thad,” Basil lamented.

Puppeteer Noreen Young with only a fraction of her creations.

“But itth hopeful in a way, too, becauth you’ve got to be optimithtic about thingth, and you’ve got to put a bright thpin on thingth, and we’re going to do a whole lot more thtuff, like a whole lot of new thtuff.”

And indeed, while the three-day summer festival is down for the foreseeable future, Young, who’s had a hand — quite literally — in these and thousands of other puppets — leading her to being named to the Order of Canada in 1995 — promises that many among her stable will continue their stage work.

On May 4, for example, the likenesses of…

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