Giant puppets added to playbill at Alberta Avenue’s Kaleido Festival

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WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's Kaleido Festival is always looking for unique ways to engage visitors. This year, there's a big surprise on the grounds. Quinn Ohler explains – Sep 15, 2017

Standing at more than 14-feet tall, it’s hard to miss the newest addition to Edmonton’s Kaleido Festival.

Four larger-than-life puppets have been created to take the festival to new levels of surprise and wonder.

“We’ve done stilt-walkers. We’ve done all kinds of big installation pieces but we’ve never actually done the giant puppets,” said lead designer Randall Fraser. “This is a new adventure.”

There’s the Aurora Borealis Dragon, a hug monster, a maraca man and Kalipso, the cha-cha girl.

“It’s a strange thing to see,” Fraser said. “But it’s really interesting and dynamic and captivating.”

A backpack is used to hold the puppet up on the puppeteer. The legs are attached to the performer’s feet and large poles are used to control the arms.

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The beginning stages of creating Kalipso, the cha-cha girl for the Kaleido Festival. Global News
An outline for the hug monster. Global News

The massive creatures usually cost nearly $6,000 to make, however, for this festival, that’s the budget for all four.

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The timeline is also tighter than usual. Each creature would normally take a month to make. They’ve had three weeks to make all four.  So how are they able to do it? Fraser said it’s all thanks to more than 200 volunteer hours.

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The puppeteers will also be volunteers through the entire event.

“It’s just another way to engage the community to be a part of the festival as opposed to just coming to the festival,” Fraser said.

Fraser is a founding member of Arts on the Avenue and has been involved in theatre for more than three decades.

“I like to build community so I jumped on board,” he said.

In the 1990s, he trained under Peter Minshall, who he called the King of Carnival, in Trinidad, where he learned the art of creating the giant puppets.

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The puppets are made out of bamboo and foam, so they are fairly light for the puppeteers.

“It’s wonderful, it’s surprising, it makes people go, ‘huh, how do they do that?'” Fraser said.

This is just the beginning. Fraser hopes to add more puppets in the future.

“At some point, we will have a whole village of them hopefully,” he laughed.

The puppets can be seen at varying times at Kaleido Festival from Sept. 15- Sept. 17 on 118th Avenue.

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Puppeteers try on the giant puppets for the first time. Global News
Randall Fraser tries on the Aurora Borealis Dragon skeleton before it's completed. Global News
Randall Fraser works on one of the giant puppet's faces. Global News
Crews work on the giant puppets ahead of Kaleido Festival. Global News