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Dickens sees another great year

The wind blew, the snow fell, and good spirits were evident everywhere as Carlyle held its eighth annual Dickens Village Festival.
The eighth annual Dickens Village Festival proved to be one of the most successful to date, taking place in mild but wintery weather on Friday and Saturday Dec. 3 and 4. While guest numbers are still being tallied at the time of this printing, according to Dickens committee chair Shelley Slykhuis, things seem to be record breaking. In this photo (rear l-r) Shelley Slykhuis and Maureen Harrison. In front (l-r) is Che Cormier and Laurie Day.

The wind blew, the snow fell, and good spirits were evident everywhere as Carlyle held its eighth annual Dickens Village Festival.

With temperatures much more tolerable then they had been the previous two years, numbers seemed to be up at every venue and event that took place over the packed two-day event.

While final tallies for many of the events weren't ready at the time of printing, all indications suggest that the festival proved to be a record-breaker.

The food vendors, almost without exception, reported selling out of foodstuffs on both the Friday and Saturday nights.

The Chowder Shack, run by the Dickens committee chair Shelley Slykhuis, reported record sales and earning by the time the windows were closed on the evening of Dec. 4.

Likewise, the Carlyle Volunteer Fire Department, which was vending turkey legs, had to order an additional 50 legs to meet the unprecedented demand.

Speaking with Pastor Matt Redstone, who was working the vendor cart for Shockwave Youth Centre, reported that their 'smokies-on-a-stick' also sold out on both nights.

Throughout the weekend, the streets were clogged with visitors attending one of the many wonderful events, venues, and shopping opportunities Carlyle has to offer.

In time for the event, King's Department Store opened its new expansion, One Twenty-Two Main, for the first time on Friday, allowing shoppers to browse in a space that has almost doubled in size, thanks to the expansion.

Out-of-town visitors were also evident in large numbers, with people coming from as far away as Ontario, British Columbia, and beyond.

"I think the whole event is just wonderful," said Yvonne Kerr of Weyburn, who was returning for her second year. "I brought along a friend this year who hasn't been [to the Dickens festival] before, and we're just having a wonderful time."

"I'm just amazed at what the community has done to make this possible," said Kerr's friend, Kathy Franks. "I especially enjoyed the horse and carriage ride. We took it to go to the High Tea, and then caught it for a trip back downtown."

"It's just a really magical event."

Many of Carlyle's businesses also made sure to take part in the Tiny Tim's Taste Tour, a yummy way to keep everyone's energy up while carrying out the Christmas shopping.

Treats ranged from chocolates and fudges, to creampuffs, to hot cider and biscuits.

Another of the events that drew crowds was Fezziwig's Pub.

Holding lunches on Friday and Saturday, run as fundraisers by the Rusty Relics Museum and the Happy Gang respectively, the pub was usually packed throughout both days.

The wonderful live entertainment was undoubtedly part of the draw that Fezziwig's held for the crowd, with a total of six different acts taking the stage, some for both days.

The High Tea, held at Carlyle United Church, also proved to be its regular hit with the visitors, and the hall was packed during open hours.

Cornerstone Family and Youth had also taken part in this year's Dickens with their fundraiser auctions, including a Christmas Tree auction.

"It was a great weekend, we made more than $2,500," said CFY project co-ordinator Jen Sedor. "The biggest item sale was a photo shoot, offered by photographer Kelly Jones, for an outdoor photo shoot that included a disc with the digital images as well as prints."

"The photo shoot ended up selling for $275," Sedor said. "The buyer was Kathy Tomaszewski, who we are eternally grateful to for her support."

"Overall, we want to thank everyone who took part in the auction," Sedor said. "We appreciate the support, and we are happy to see that we were able to have another successful year."

Also well attended over the weekend were the two nights of the Lighted Parade.

More than 20 floats took part in the parades, and candy fell in a rain for the youth who were out to see the site.

"We're really happy with the parade this year," said Slykhuis. "We are thankful to all the businesses which came out, and the fact the floats were all dedicated to a business, family, or organization was great too."

The winners of this year's decorating contest have also been announced.

Selected for one of three business categories and one of three private residence categories, the winners are recognized for helping Carlyle live up to the Dickens village image with their Christmas decorating.

"The judges had a real hard time this year," said Ron Paul, one of the organizers of the judging. "There were a lot of great houses done up, and some great businesses as well."

Regardless, three residences and three businesses were chosen for recognition.

In private residences, for the 'Victorian' category, the winner is Darrin and Leisa Grimes.

In 'Tradition' for homes is Ron and Sandra Mitchell.

In 'Novelty,' the winners were Darryl and Mary Lynn Mildenberger.

For businesses, the winner for 'Victorian' was Cornerstone Shoes.

Carlyle Car Wash was awarded the title this year for best 'Traditional' themed decoration.

Finally, for 'Novelty' decoration, Home Hardware receives the title.

Among the many faces of visitors who swirled about the crowds was that of Edie Spagrud, the CEO of Saskatchewan South East Enterprise Region, as well as James Tessier, one of the SSEER researchers.

"The town has done a really amazing job nourishing and building this event," Spagrud said. "The energy and the obvious enjoyment the people have is just infectious."

Tessier, had in fact come of his own volition to take part in the festival.

"We hear about all the festivals in the region, but this one is really great, so I came out with my parents to show them around," Tessier said. "We're having a wonderful time here."

Also visiting again this year was the 'Women-on-Wheels' bus tour from Regina.

Designed as a shopping adventure for people, a tour bus starts a route from Regina, and stops in several communities before coming to Carlyle.

Last year, the Women-on-Wheels bus came for just a single day; this year the tour came for both days of the festival.

Total numbers for visitors, and a few other events, have yet to be tallied, but will be reported in The Observer next week.

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