About Us...

Puppetry Guild of Northeastern Ohio

The year was 1969. Roger Dennis and Bob Vesely, known as The Poppinjay Puppets, held a two day picnic in Solon, Ohio and invited all their puppeteer friends. Over fifty puppeteers arrived to spend the weekend, performing and partying as puppeteers tend to do. It was surprising to Bob and Roger to see how many local (Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Lorain) puppeteers joined the fun. During the next year the group made plans to form a guild. In 1971 more than fifteen people met as a guild for the first time and applied to Puppeteers of America for a charter. PGNO soon became one of the most active guilds in the United States. In the decade of the seventies, there were nine professional troupes (or solos) working in the Cleveland area; The Poppinjay Puppets (Roger Dennis, Bob Vesely), Melchior Marionettes (Erica Melchior), Clad Hands Puppets  (Greg Sager, Dave Stone) Archie Elliot's Puppets, Small World Puppets (Jean Jenkins), The Joy Puppeteers (Nancy Sander, Linda Wells) Ball and Cooper Puppets (Suzanne Cooper, Helenmary Ball), The Once-Upon-A-Time Puppet Theater (Eugene & Alina Nahum) and our most gifted of all, George  Latshaw. There was even a junior guild with seven junior members. Not all guild members were professionals. There were librarians, teachers, storytellers, church affiliated folks and even one who worked with special needs children. At their largest, over thirty members regularly attended their monthly meetings.  In 1978 "Pignosers" (the nickname given us by the Detroit Guild) launched its first regional festival, held at Kent State University. This was a three day festival for all the guilds in the Great Lakes Region. Regional festivals are held every other year; the alternate years have a national festival.  The second festival, in the early nineties, that Pignosers sponsored was held at the Marriott Hotel in North Royalton. But their most ambitious festival  was the national festival held at the University of Toledo. This festival, headed by Chuck and Joyce Berty (Berty Craft Puppets), is considered one of the finest festivals P of A ever held. As the guild members aged, retired or moved south, the guild floundered until finally, we ground  to a halt, meeting only at Pokagon.  Now there is new energy arriving to the guild and a new group of Pignosers have met to carry on our tradition. 


Mission Statement;

To perform, learn, educate, explore, and share the art of puppetry! 

Guild Directors

Vincent J. Polowy - President

Vincent is the Artistic Director of  Great Lakes National Puppet Theater (Cleveland, OH). He has performed all across the United States at schools, libraries, theaters and at major theme parks including Sea World and Six Flags. He performed as a member of the Hands Down Puppet Theater (Buffalo, NY). Vincent performed with renowned puppeteer Basil Twist in Amahl and the Night Visitors (Cleveland, OH) and he toured extensively with award winning Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theater (Westfield, NY)  

Nancy Sander - Vice President

Nancy Sander is owner of Puppets With Pizazz and has been performing throughout Northeastern Ohio for over thirty years. She was principal puppeteer, consultant, builder, and script writer for the Emmy-Award winning children's television show, "Hickory Hideout", produced by WKYC-TV and WNBC-TV. She received an Emmy Award for her contribution to children's television. In 2006, she was awarded the Martin Stevenes Award of Puppetry Excellence, for excellence in puppetry and puppet production.

Jennifer E. Walker - Treasurer

Jennifer is the Associate Director of  Great Lakes National Puppet Theater (Cleveland, OH). She majored in Fine Art at Kent State University and has technical credits at many theaters in the Cleveland area, and with the national tour of "Cats". Jennifer is Asst. Technical Director/Scenic Artist for Mayfield High School and has been a featured performer at Medieval/Renaissance festivals all across the country. She is lead singer of "The Donegal Doggs", a traditional Irish music group.

Kirk Maynard - Secretary

 Kirk Maynard is a professional puppeteer, director, writer, and President/CEO of Natural Bridges Puppets. A former clown, police officer, police dispatcher, special effects makeup artist, and a U.S. Army veteran, Kirk has a strong desire to make people laugh, learn, and have fun through the use of puppetry. He toured throughout Europe for Armed Forces Entertainment, performing for military personnel and their families. Kirk has performed on numerous television programs and commercials, as well as live comedy shows at various festivals and events.

Jean Jackson - Regional Liaison

Bio Coming Soon!

Nate Puppets - Membership Chairman

Nate Puppets is not your normal everyday Ventriloquist. "I have loved puppets my entire life. Growing up when I did there was usually a puppet show on T.V, Shows like Eureeka's Castle, Allegra's Window, and of course, Sesame Street. Now I get to be the man behind or under the puppet. I'm a puppet performer mainly but I've also been building puppets since high school. All my puppets are made by me right down to the patterns." Nate had the opportunity to work for Jim Henson Productions and Sesame Street, when he performed on the Sesame Street float, in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, operating the "Baby Bear" puppet!