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Many people flocked to Carlyle for Dickens Village Festival

Many activities were held in the southeast Saskatchewan town over two days.
A lighted parade was once again part of this year's Dickens Village Festival.

CARLYLE - The town of Carlyle hosted its 19th annual Dickens Village Festival on the weekend, with good attendance despite the cold weather.

Festivities began on Dec. 2 with a high tea at the Carlyle United Church.

“It was exciting for us to, once again, offer Victorian high tea after a three-year hiatus,” said committee member Lorna Hill. “We are happy to report that this first year back has been a success thanks to our guests, volunteers and all those who donated to this event.

“We served 225 people over the two days with 94 ladies arriving on the Women on the Go Tour buses Friday [Dec. 2] afternoon. Diners enjoyed delicious finger food, Christmas pudding, a beverage, beautiful decor, fine china, a bake/craft sale and were outfitted with a Victorian hat to accentuate their attire. Thank-you to Bev Thompson and Irene Doty for their assistance.

“On behalf of the committee members and advisors, we cannot adequately thank our volunteers who settled quickly and capably into their responsibilities. We look forward to 2023.”

At the Carlyle Memorial Hall, everyone was entertained by some great local talent. The Caragana Ramblers is a three-piece country band out of Forget. Well-known musical artist Jacquie Walbaum, also from Forget, performed, as did karaoke vocalist Roy Rutagines and guitarist Ed Fahlman.

That evening, the first of two lighted parades were held with good crowds lining many of the streets in town. There were approximately 35 floats in the parade, with both old and new participating.

There were many local vendors on Main Street, selling everything from baked potatoes, perogies, sausages, Christmas baking, clam chowder and rice pudding.

Ken King, owner of King’s Department Store, hosted some very well-attended hourly draws. King narrowly won a chili cookoff with friend and competitor Darwin Williamson, the Purolator courier driver.

The Dec. 2 activities were capped off by the first performance of the Cornerstone Theatre production of Twenty-three Scrooge-Doo, which played to a full audience. The Fezziwig’s bar was open all weekend long and provided warmth and a refreshing beverage.

The weather warmed up Dec. 3 and there was more to do. At the Carlyle Elementary School, over 20 vendors set up shop and from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., they held their annual English Market Tradeshow.

At the hall, magician Pat Roth of Regina entertained many excited children with a magic show and balloon sculptures. His performance was followed by Walbaum, fiddler Donna Turk and guitarist Morgan Turk of Forget, and Chris Burn. Santa Claus made an appearance as well. There were horse and buggy carriage rides on both days.

Supper vendors were again out in full force that evening. Some of those organizations that participated included the Moose Mountain Karate Club, Carlyle One Church, Knights of Columbus, Gordon F. Kells High School, Carlyle Fire and Rescue, Carlyle District Lions Club and others. Another suppertime parade winded its way down the streets of Carlyle, with even more entrants due to the milder weather.

Locals Candy Bye and Don Carter held their annual chocolate chip cookie competition that evening. It was incredibly close with Bye winning by a single vote. She proudly declared, “Winner winner, chicken dinner!”

Again, another crowd attended the Carlyle Memorial Hall for the Dickens Scrooge performance. It was repeated as a matinee on Dec. 4.

There were many out-of-town visitors, including Mandy and Devin Rempel from Watrous, nearly four hours away.

“I just wanted to take a moment and compliment everyone who worked so hard on the Dickens Festival,” said Mandy Rempel. “My husband and I were looking for something to do this December and came across your festival on Facebook.

“We booked a hotel room and drove down. We had so much fun. It was wonderful to see the whole town get involved. We arrived Friday afternoon and left Sunday morning, but in that short time we felt so welcome and part of the community. We look forward to returning to Carlyle in the summer to explore the area when it’s a lot warmer.”

Festival committee member Sandra Dyer was also grateful with the response.

“All in all, we had a successful weekend despite the cold weather. I want to personally thank everyone for their many hours of volunteer work, which made this event a tremendous success.

“And I also want to give out a big shout-out to Pat Anderson. Pat obtained approval from the Town of Carlyle to move the food vendors into the warm and cozy old Sears building. It was greatly appreciated by everyone. All of us on the Dickens committee are really looking forward to our 20th anniversary in 2023.”