Dickens Festival draws crowds to Carlyle

Carlyle was once again transformed into a Victorian-era community for the 2018 edition of the Dickens Village Festival on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Large crowds turned out for the activities that were offered this year. While it’s hard to pinpoint how many people were present, festival chairperson Shelley Slykhuis said 657 people signed the guestbook this year.

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Two large buses and a van travelled from Regina on Dec. 1 for the festivities, and people from across Canada and even a couple from Australia attended.

She believes the number of people in attendance was down, which she attributed to the foggy conditions that have covered the southeast in recent weeks. The weather represents the biggest challenge for the festival each year.

“It wasn’t cold, and we had people out and about,” said Slykhuis.

Various activities were offered in the town over the course of the two days. Free entertainment was at Fezziwig’s Pub, and high tea was served both afternoons. People enjoyed carriage rides, sampled the food offered on Tiny Tim’s Taste Tour, and visited food vendors set up each evening.

Several people were dressed up as characters for the weekend, while others came dressed in their Victorian-period costumes.

A lighted parade made its way through the town each night. Large crowds gathered to watch the 20 floats that participated.

An English market craft sale was in the Carlyle Elementary School gymnasium on Dec. 1.

“It can only be successful when I know that I’ve sold at least one or two pots of chowder,” said Slykhuis. “I’m part of the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church chowder shack made a profit of $1,065, so that’s good for two days of activities.”

The Cornerstone Theatre presented Carol as its production for the second straight year. A spin on Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, it featured some new actors and singers.

“It had a new twist, and it was very well received,” said Slykhuis. “It was almost sold out.”

Entertainment is always a highlight of the festival. In addition to the play, there was a children’s production on Dec. 2 named The Cratchit Kids, while the Focal Point youth choir out of Forget also performed.

Slykhuis believes the festival continues to thrive and grow because people can come to the event and not spend a lot of money. Many of the activities during the two days are free, and people can go shopping if they want and support Carlyle’s businesses.

“It allows the families to get into Christmas spirit without all of those costs.”

They might have to pay for supper or tea, or to attend the play, but the other activities are free.


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