Welcome to the Dickens Festival
Welcome to the Dickens Festival
By STU MERRY
Even though there’s no snow on the ground doesn’t mean one can’t get into the Christmas spirit.
What better way to start the holiday season off right than by taking in the Dickens Village Festival. The holiday tradition begins Friday and runs three consecutive weekends. The festival gets underway in the morning with the opening of the English Market at the Garrison City Auditorium.
This is the 16th year of the festival. Daily events include afternoon entertainment at 2 p.m. at the Kota Theater. Other highlights include street vendors, a lighted parade, English High Tea and rides on the newly refurbished Queen Elizabus. Another tradition of the festival is house tours. This year’s featured home is owned by Ron and Judy Olson. Historic tours will feature a whaling and early lighting collection by Steve Holmes. A historic side trip will take visitors to the Fort Stevenson Guardhouse. (See Dickens at a Glance for further information.)
New to this year’s festival is the “Charles Village Market.” The market, sponsored by the Garrison High School Future Business Leaders of America chapter, will be at the SACA Lodge, just off Main Street on Central Avenue. The market is available to vendors who might not meet criteria for the English Market.
This year’s stage production entitled “A Christmas Carol” is once again presented by the Sakakawea Area Council for the Arts (SACA). It is adapted for the stage by Jude Iverson of Garrison.
This year’s production follows the conversion and redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens’ miserly curmudgeon, as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. Performances are 7:30 p.m. at the Kota Theater.
Iverson said that while remaining true to the original work with respect to the plot line and the major characters of Scrooge, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, the ghosts of Christmases Past and Present have undergone some changes in her version. And a scene never before depicted in any previous Festival production has also been scripted and incorporated by Iverson.
Although there have been numerous directors of the annual SACA Dickens production, the talents of Iverson and Mike Youngs, both local residents and SACA members, have been tapped the most often. Iverson’s history with the festival dates back to its initial inception in 1994, with nine separate stints as a director or co-director. This will be her second adaptation. Spanning 40-plus years, Iverson’s theater experience includes her affiliation with SACA as a past president, Theater Committee chairperson and director of numerous other productions.
Youngs has often collaborated with Iverson as a co-director and taken on the role of Scrooge under Iverson’s direction. He has also written two published versions of the classic story. This year he will again take to the stage in the role of Topper while assisting the production as co-chair of the SACA Theater Committee.
Officials at the reservation center say that ticket sales continue to be brisk as people get ready to get the Dickens spirit.
Two days are virtually sold out: they are this Saturday and Saturday, Dec. 5. There are a number of tickets available for the final weekend of the festival (Dec. 11-12), and quite a few available for Friday and Dec. 4.
The reservation center for the Dickens Village Festival is located at the North Dakota Firefighters Museum located on Main Street. Operating hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.