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Port Discovery is currently open on Saturdays and Sundays. We are operating at less than 25% capacity and have made a variety of other updates to provide you with a safe, fun experience. Plan Your Visit and Purchase Tickets Today! 

Puppet Powered Weekend

Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22

Enjoy A Fun-Filled, Puppet Powered Weekend at Port Discovery With Your Child!

Puppet Powered Weekend at Port Discovery

Join Port Discovery as we celebrate World Puppetry Day! This full weekend event will be showcasing the work & skills of local puppeteers from the Maryland area. A variety of workshops, performances, and puppet meet-and-greets for children and adults to make, interact, and learn about different puppetry styles.

Special Performances

Discovery Stage Series featuring Silly Goose & Val (Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22)

Saturday March 21 at 1:00PM
Sunday March, 22 at 2:00PM

Artist: Val Smalkin

Val Smalkin presents a fast-paced, humorous 40-minute musical treat with puppets, ventriloquism, dancing, singing, and 100% audience participation. Her Parents' Choice award-winning songs and her Maryland State Arts Council award-winning solo performance are guaranteed to delight tots, tweens, and teens...and the timeworn, as well!

These performances are supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council (

Maryland State Arts Council Logo

Berry the Bunny Bear's Big Break featuring Tatiana Ford (Saturday, March 21)

Saturday, March 21 at 11:15AM
Artist: Tatiana Ford

Help Berry the Bunny Bear put on her very first puppet show! 

Puppetry Workshops - Capacity is Limited!

Exploring Emotion with Fabric hosted by Jess Rassp (Saturday, March 21 at 3:00PM)

Recommended for ages 8-10, all ages welcome!

Learn about object puppetry by animating just one piece of fabric! Puppeteer Jess Rassp will lead an interactive workshop showing how puppets highlight the principles of wordless communication and the wide spectrum of physical and emotional expression.

Please note: The Workshop will be limited to a maximum of 20 children and their adults.

Puppet Pupils hosted by Tatiana Ford (Sunday, March 22 at 3:00PM)

Learn the basics of puppetry from puppeteer Tatiana Ford through this interactive, beginningers guide to puppetry workshop! Stay tuned for additional workshop details! 

Puppet Meet & Greets

Uncle Teddy & Corky (Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22)

Saturday 3/21: 11:00AM, 12:00PM, & 2:00PM
Sunday 3/22: 12:00PM & 1:00PM

Artist: Chris Heady 

Enter into Chessie’s Grotto to meet and interact with some puppet friends who love BOTH the land and sea. Puppeteer Chris Heady will be joined by his friends Uncle Teddy (he’s a seal!) and Corky (he’s a penguin)! 

The Vultures (Saturday, March 21)

Saturday 3/21: 11:00AM
Artist: Jess Rassp

Meet and interact with puppeteer Jess Rassp’s original vulture puppets, who will be wandering around the museum at select times. Learn about these bird’s important role in the environmental life cycle!

The Ice Picker Birds (Saturday, March 21)

Saturday 3/21: 12:00PM
Artist: Jess Rassp

Meet and interact with the Ice Picker Bird and her nestlings: beautiful creatures from an alien planet! Puppeteer Jess Rassp will describe the materials used to construct her original puppets and offer guests the opportunity to puppeteer the nestlings.

Additional Activities Around the Museum:

Sock Puppets (StudioWorkshop)
Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22 - All Day

Children and families will have the opportunity to create their own puppets to join in on the fun of Puppet Powered Weekend at Port Discovery! By providing children and families with a wide range of materials and artistic inspiration, even our littlest learners will be able to join in on the fun!

Q&A with Port Discovery Staff - The Power of Puppets in Play
Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22 - times vary, located inside Tot Trails or The Oasis

There are spaces at Port Discovery in which we always have puppets! Stop by to explore them and for an informal conversation with PD staff on the power of using puppets while communicating with your child! 


Featured Artists' Biographies

Tatiana Ford (Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22)

Artist, actor, and puppeteer Tatiana Nya Ford is interested in creative processes that require immense and intricate intimacy, vulnerability, and truth and artworks that may not have finality and are not associated with traditional standards of beauty or worth. The often-opaque themes in Ford’s works have in common the artist’s obsession with incorporating play into life even as we age. “If we accept the idea that self-expression doesn’t have to be pleasant and doesn’t have to mimic a commercial form, or process, then what are the limits of art?” Ford asks.

Chris Heady (Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22)

 Chris Heady is the recipient of both a 2019 Workshop Grant from The Jim Henson Foundation and a 2019 Rose Endowment Fund through The Puppeteers of America for his upcoming Stage Play adaptation of ‘The Custer Wolf.’ His three-time Award Winning Short Film, ‘The Custer Wolf’ has been screened at Film Festivals around the world having originally been produced for The Center for Puppetry Arts’ 2018 XPT (Xperimental Puppetry Theatre).

He’s a former Associate Digital Puppeteer (voice of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup) for The Hershey Company. He received his Digital Puppetry training from The Jim Henson Company. He’s also portrayed The Conductor of the Hogwarts Express in ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’, and Puppeteered for Walt Disney World.

He recently accepted an outreach position performing puppets for Carroll County Public Libraries. (website:

Jess Rassp (Saturday, March 21)

Jess Rassp is a Mask and Puppet Maker, Performer, and Scenic Artist living in Baltimore, MD. Jess' background in painting and sculpture fuels her fabrications and design work. She has also explored physical theatre in puppetry, dance, and martial arts. Jess transforms simple materials such as hoops, chicken wire, gauze, and coffee filters into puppet creatures that visually capture natural forms and movements. She has used puppets to tell folk tales, display alien creatures from another planet, and create whimsical dreams. In addition to intensive studies in theatre and fine arts, she received her B.A. in English Literature from Brandeis University. Jess is currently Artistic Director of Cohesion Theatre Company.

Val Smalkin (Saturday, March 21 & Sunday, March 22)

Ventriloquist, musician, composer, and performer Valerie Leonhart Smalkin was one of the writers, performers, and co-producers as well as the head puppeteer of the Emmy award-winning television program It's Kindertime on Baltimore’s ABC affiliate WMAR-TV 2. Val’s CD, A Gentle Halloween, received a Parents’ Choice Fun Stuff award in 2015, and in 2016 her follow-up CD, Sing! Sing! Sing!...and Dance!, garnered a Parents’ Choice Approved award.

Her current CD, Love Bug! received a Parents’ Choice Recommended award. Her book Springtime Dance took gold in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in 2014. (website:

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