BUCKHANNON – The second edition of the West Virginia Dickens Christmas Festival and Faire will ride back into Buckhannon this December via horse and carriage to help residents celebrate the holiday season.
Becki Westfall, organizer of the Dickens Christmas Festival and Faire, attended the Oct. 17 Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur meeting to reveal some of the plans for the Saturday, Dec. 2 festival. The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 6 p.m., with Fezziwig’s Ball, slated for 7-11 p.m., marking the event’s conclusion.
“Our main feature is our horse-and-carriage rides beginning at noon and continuing until 5 p.m. without charge; we simply ask that you provide some canned foods, and all of those canned foods will go to the Parish House for their Christmas baskets,” Westfall said. “If you don’t bring cans of food, we’ll accept your cash donations as well.”
“Last year, we were able to provide the Parish House with over 1,500 cans of food and over $500 in cash donations,” she said.
A horse-drawn sleigh that holds up to six riders – and potentially, Santa Claus himself – will also be available to festival attendees.
“Mountain CAP is working with us this year, and we’re really excited about that; they will provide our children with period-appropriate hats, as well as Christmas ornaments to take with them,” Westfall said. “Mrs. Santa Claus will be there to greet our children, and parents can take pictures.”
Westfall said the Mountain CAP Family Support Center, located at 30 East Main Street, will also provide crucial access to diaper-changing stations and a nursing place for mothers and their infants.
Artisans of all kinds will be found up and down Main Street, teaching their crafts and selling their wares.
“We have basket weavers, shoe shiners, farriers, ironworkers and some folks making apple butter and, hopefully, many more interactive artisans,” Westfall said. “We will be selling hot chestnuts and turkey legs, and you can visit the ice rink or have some hot cocoa provided by the folks at Hodgesville United Methodist Church.”
“You’ll be able to listen to carolers on the streets, go to Fish Hawk and listen to the string quartet or the Opera House and hear the Buckhannon-Upshur high school orchestra,” Westfall added.
Community members are encouraged to dress up in accordance with mid-1800s period clothing, but it is not required.
“A candlelight costume and caroling parade will begin at 5:50 p.m. from the Upshur County Courthouse and parade down Main Street to Jawbone Park, where the mayor will proclaim the Christmas season has begun,” Westfall said. “This special community tree is very important because it’s our tree, and we call it our tree because anyone can put their ornament on it – every child in the community, every person can go down and put an ornament on their tree.”
Tickets for Fezziwig’s Ball will go on sale next week at the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau and online at Eventbrite. Tickets will cost $50 per person, $90 for a couple and $450 for a table.
“It is personally my favorite part of the day,” Westfall said. “It is a costume ball at the Opera House, and we have great food and a fantastic band. We have a good time with good tidings, so it’s a great way to start the Christmas season.”
Westfall said costumes aren’t mandatory for Fezziwig’s Ball, but people are urged to dress up.
“You don’t have to be in costume, but we do ask that you step it up a little bit and not be casual,” she said. “The tickets cover your appetizers, a seasonal buffet, drinks, dessert, as well as a cash bar and the entertainment,” she said.
Event organizers are also always looking for volunteers to help bring the day together, and people interested in volunteering are encouraged to attend festival organizational meetings at 5 p.m. every Tuesday evening at her business, Just Cuttin’ Up, located at 11 East Main Street.
“We never can get enough volunteers; we meet every Tuesday night at my business at 11 East Main Street,” she said. “But if you can’t volunteer, we always appreciate your support. You can share us on Facebook, and even little things like that go a long way.”
Dickens Christmas Festival and Faire organizers are still seeking artisans, so anyone who may be interested in participating or knows someone who would, message the festival’s Facebook, email DickensChristmasFestival.WV@gmail.com or call 304-472-5445.
“If you are an artisan or you know someone that’s an artisan who can make baskets or butter or whatever, we would love for you to send them our way,” Westfall said.