By Mishelle Tongco, Amy Upton Stokes, Raf Gerster, Yuran Xue

    Don’t be alarmed if a giant seagull tries to steal your chips this month. It’s just one of the many creations being unleashed for a new festival in Footscray.

    Snuffest is the creation of local theatre company Snuff Puppets and is their way of giving back to the local community. 

    Co-Artistic Director, Nick Wilson said that opening a festival in the western suburbs of Melbourne has meant a lot for Snuff Puppets.

    ‘Over 30 years we’ve done so much work taking stuff we’ve made here and taking it all over the world. It feels like an opportunity to really open the doors to our own space and let our neighbours come and appreciate what we do and celebrate both our venue and our work.’

    The festival will be presenting large-scale theatre, film, installations, workshops and parties and will kick off with the return season of Snuff Puppets’ hit show Swamp-At The End Of The World

    Other performances include the 100 Eggs – Vietnamese Community Movie Night, Cochlea which features a 15-metre inner ear, and a massive Snuff Party to wind the festival up.

    The Snuff Party will be a culmination of a week-long workshop, collaborating with a UK-based fashion company Fizzy Fingers and local artists to showcase new art with unique costumes.

    Snuff Puppets CEO Andy Freer says ‘it’s very hard to avoid a snuff puppet doing its thing’.

    ‘Our particular style is very much in your face and on the street… we kind of make things big and make things loud and speak openly about what we do and ask people to experience it for themselves.’

    Mr Freer said that Snuff Puppets had been promoting the festival in a variety of different ways.

    ‘We’re doing a neighbourhood leaflety thing and we’ve got posters coming off the printer today so they’ll be put up around the place.’

    But Mr Freer said that word-of-mouth would be an effective means of promotion as ‘it can be a bit hard to drum up people in unknown or out of the way spaces’.

    Snuffest is one of many festivals supported by the Victorian Government’s Go West Fund, a $2.3 million investment aimed to create more jobs and events for local artists in Melbourne’s west. 

    Mr Wilson said that the Go West Fund seemed like a perfect opportunity for the company and Snuffest. 

    ‘We’ve been in the situation where we’ve been investing time and energy into developing our space of venue for the last several years,’ he said. 

    ‘And it’s been an ongoing dream of ours to make it a bit more open to the public and more of a community asset.’

    Snuffest will be taking place at their Footscray Drill Hall headquarters between September 6 and October 7. 

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