Puppets and Pottery: Marion couple finds love at King Richard’s Faire
For Marion couple Vinny Lovegrove and Cynthia Naples, each fall brings a world of fantasy and imagination.
They both work at King Richard’s Faire in Carver, Massachusetts. Lovegrove builds and operates giant puppets, and Naples sells handmade pottery from a storefront she constructed with her father.
For the couple, the fair is more than just an excuse to dress up in fantastic outfits — it’s an integral part of their lives.
Lovegrove first auditioned for a role at King Richard’s Faire in 1993 with a giant puppet of a two-legged dragon. He said he memorized Lewis Carol’s “Jabberwocky” and reenacted the poem as the dragon.
Not long after, Naples joined the Faire in 1998 as “Mahinda's Mad Dog Pottery,” crafting and selling ceramics, including goblets and “puzzle mugs,” which were first invented as novelties in the 1500s and can only be used in one specific way.
And it was at King Richard’s Faire where the two met.
A mutual friend who worked for Lovegrove — guiding his puppets which can sometimes be up to 18 feet tall — introduced the two one day at Naples’ shop.
“I did always think he was cute,” said Naples, who saw more frequent visits from Lovegrove as the years went on. “Then, one year, it just suddenly changed, and he was coming over by himself.”
Now married, the couple has a 10-year-old daughter named Tallulah, and they both continue to work at the fair every year.
Lovegrove often greets visitors at the front gate and participates in parades around the fairgrounds while piloting his massive puppets.
He can be found operating “Hodgepodge,” who is “a big beast with big blue horns, a big grinny face and a gruff and grumbly voice,” he said. And “George the Troll,” a big purple troll with a Boston accent who is like a “friendly old man.”
Meanwhile, Naples runs her store selling ceramics to new customers and collectors who come back year after year to buy her work.
While both work outside of the fair — Lovegrove is a children’s entertainer and Naples runs Studio 283 in Marion, where she sells her pottery — the yearly tradition can be a grounding experience for the family.
“It’s definitely a touchstone for me,” said Naples. “It's also impossible not to reflect on growing when you’re standing in a physical place once a year.”
And this creative family has done a lot of growing at the fair, with Tallulah making her first sale at Naples’ shop when she was seven.
“She sees behind the scenes, she sees what people do, she understands that they all have to come together to do it,” said Cynthia. “There's a lot of lessons there that I try to give her.”
For Lovegrove, the fair is a special — even magical — place.
“People come with an expectation to play, to pretend and use their imagination,” he said.