Submitted by Michele Amy
“Sixteen years? I’m surprised that The Dickens Festival is still going!” How many times has Shelley Slykhuis heard that comment around town?
How often have readers thought exactly the same thing – or some version of the same question? Well, people might be surprised, but generally, everyone is pretty grateful that it still is running.
What fun it is to have so many diverse elements of our local community come together on this weekend to visit, share time, catch up, (dress up) and get into the community Christmas Spirit – even if it IS one filled with Bah – Humbugs!
And here are TEN Fun Facts which might not be common knowledge!
1. This Festival was originally started by the local economic development agency under the leadership of Judy Riddell. Judy got the idea by attending the Dickens festival in Garrison, ND, which is now entering its 25th year. The Carlyle Dickens Village Festival, the only one of its kind in Canada, is now entering its 16th year and is run solely by community volunteers.
2. Over 17 service groups, clubs and local organizations use the Dicken’s festival as one of their primary fundraisers for the year!
3. 100% of the funds generated by the festival STAY in the community.
4. In 2018, the festival will highlight 100% local musicians from over 11 different communities in the S.E. corner including: White Bear, Langbank, Kenosee Lake, Forget, Carlyle, Alida, Manor, Alameda, Estevan, Lampman, Carnduff,
5. The entire festival is funded by the proceeds of the “Dickens Sale” of donated used items which takes over the local hall twice yearly and is coordinated and manned by an army of volunteers.
6. Cornerstone Theatre Inc. has now adapted and presented 16 versions of Charles’ Dickens “A Christmas Carol” which has included locally written and produced versions as well as many professional adaptations. This year, by popular demand, “Carol” is being staged as an encore. One of the biggest complaints about the festival each year by tourists is that the play sells out and they cannot get tickets.
7. 100% of the proceeds from Cornerstone’s Dickens production and the Fezzywig pub are re-invested into the renovations and the upkeep of the Carlyle Memorial Hall and Theatre. This year, 10% of ticket sales is also being donated to the local food bank.
8. In 2018, the children of the S.E. Sask. communities are being included in the festival in an active role. The Dickens committee is partnering with the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party to organize a children’s Christmas Concert production titled The Cratchitt Kids’ Production, of “Christmas Is”, whose show will be staged for audiences in the Fezzywig’s hall on Saturday morning before the magician show.
9. One of the stated goals of the Dickens Festival is to “give back to” our local business community, as the local businesses are so generous all year long with their contributions of money, goods, discounts and sponsorships for all of the local clubs, schools and organizations. To this end, the festival has attracted approximately 6 bus tours each year, bringing shoppers and tourists to the Town of Carlyle, as well as encouraging the local and surrounding communities to shop within our own community.
10. Shelley Slykhuis and the Catholic Church have now made over 640 GALLONS of chowder (or to translate for those who think metric 2422 liters of chowder) for the Dickens festival! This compute to over 19,381 CUPS OF CHOWDER!