Becki Westfall, organizer of the Dickens Christmas Festival and Faire, addresses commissioners at their Feb. 16 meeting. / Photo by Katie Kuba

Dickens Festival and Faire sets first planning meeting Feb. 28, announces July 29 ATV/UTV fundraiser ride

BUCKHANNON – The Dickens Christmas Festival and Faire plans to return in 2023 and hopes to raise funds and collect a slew of food items during a special summer event.

Becki Westfall, organizer of the Dickens Christmas Festival and Faire, attended the Feb. 16 Upshur County Commission meeting to request the use of the Upshur County Courthouse Dec. 2 for the 2023 festival and to announce a new event to help raise funds for the winter extravaganza.

“We are here to ask for permission to utilize the courthouse and the surrounding facilities – electric and everything – for this year,” Westfall said. “[In 2022], we had a few little glitches, but it was our first year, and considering the weather and some illnesses, I think for our first year, we did a great job. The courthouse was very important to our festival, and we hope this is something we can do every year.”

The first planning meeting for the 2023 event is slated for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 11 East Main St., and everyone is invited. The planning committee has also organized the ‘Dickens of a Ride’ event in Tallmansville, which will take place July 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and cost $25 for drivers and $15 for passengers.

“It’s going to be through the beautiful mountains of West Virginia, and it will be a two-part fundraiser; instead of collecting money for baskets, we’re going to ask for donations of food, and we’re hopefully going to collect a lot of food and give that to the Parish House for the children in the summer that don’t have a stable source of food,” Westfall said. “It will also [cover] a little bit of the operating costs for the faire in December, where again, we’ll be collecting things for the Parish House and for our community.”

More information about the summer event can be found on its event Facebook page.

“We’ve really had a good turnout for the first festival; Mountain CAP’s children’s activities had a great turnout, which in turn, gave people information about Mountain CAP’s programs,” Westfall said. “We finished up with the ball, which was a really good time. The [youth in the community] always have great activities, and they have their prom and homecoming, but we had a lot of adults that were so excited about their outfits and getting dressed up in their costumes; it was great.”

Westfall also thanked the community for their participation and support of a new large-scale event.

“We appreciate the support our community has given us because this is all about giving and that’s what we want to do,” Westfall said. “I’m hoping this is something we have for many years to come. Oftentimes, it’s easy for us to complain about the things that are going on around us, but when we look at the world as a whole, we have a roof up above us, we have a good place to sleep, we have food on our table, we have shoes on our feet and some people in this world never have never had the opportunity to have those things.”

She said they were overwhelmed with about 1,500 donations of canned food during the 2022 festival.

“We do have poverty; we do have issues within our own system, and a small town steps up to help with those things. I know 1,500 doesn’t sound like a lot, but at least it helped some people who really needed it,” Westfall said. “The Parish House said their food can get low in the summer, so we’re going to be collecting food again and we certainly hope everybody can come out and go on these country roads with their side-by-sides or four-wheelers or whatever and just have a good time.”

The commission approved Westfall’s request to use the courthouse in December unanimously.

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