The annual Dickens Village Festival in Carlyle is going to have something for everybody.
The annual celebration, which sees Carlyle transformed into a village from the Victorian age, like the one depicted in Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Carol, will have horse-drawn carriage rides, lighted parades, street vendors selling food, afternoon old-time dances, themed theatre productions, English high teas, a Victorian hand-made market, magicians, children’s productions, photos with Santa Claus and a free festival of live music in the Fezzywigs’ pub, all topped up with a town dressed for Dickens, and shop-keepers featuring their best shopping deals of the year.
The festival runs from Dec. 6-8.
As with most events in rural Saskatchewan, the Dickens festival has been run by a dedicated committee of volunteers whose mission is to help to perpetuate family-friendly community spirit and to support the organizations and businesses of the local community.
This is a celebration of the volunteerism that is alive and thriving in rural Saskatchewan.
Carlyle volunteers participate by decorating the town in period garb – from flower pots to light standards, dressing up the store fronts and lighting the giant tree in the centre of Main Street – and decorating themselves and the townsfolk by whipping up period costumes and accoutrements.
Each of the other volunteer organizations in town is also offered an opportunity to participate and to fundraise for their individual organizations as well. They might run a special photo booth, or perhaps others offer carriage rides. The Catholic Church’s members serve over 640 gallons of homemade chowder for hungry festival attendees.
The Cornerstone Theatre group has been performing creative musical variations of A Christmas Carol for 17 years. This year features a pirate adaptation. Paul Twietmeyer has created a special sculpture for the play.
Donations at the free Saturday pancake breakfast, as well as a percentage of the ticket sales from the Cornerstone Theatre troupe, is donated directly to the food bank in an effort to reinforce the Dickensian message of caring for the least among us during this time of year.
The many businesses of Carlyle pitch in and participate as well, putting their best efforts forward, offering shopping deals for those getting ready for Christmas giving, donating financially to the festival, and welcoming in the many tourists which the festival attracts yearly.
The Dickens Music Festival is hosted by the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party in Fezzywig’s pub Dec. 6 and 7, and features the vibrant local musical scene present in the southeast corner of the province.
Showcasing folk music, country, gospel Christmas music, traditional old tyme dances, local youth performing troupes, family bands, First Nations’ recording artists and Juno award-winning players, the festival is a diverse and dynamic mix of excellent musicians.
The tweener musical acts feature some up and coming amateur musicians and diverse buskers cruise about the town, adding their music for the entertainment of local festival-goers.
A lighted parade will make its way through the town each night, starting at 6 p.m.
Not only is the entire festival local, but all of the proceeds stay local as well, and circulate around to support the various activities which make living in a small town such an excellent opportunity.