In years long past, my family would make the trek to the Salt Lake Dickens Festival at the Utah State Fairgrounds. We would pay our admission, and enter into Victorian England. The vendors were all in period costumes, street players would be out and about, and you may even run into Charles Dickens or Qween Victoria on your amblings through shops. Then, for reasons later explained but then unexplicable, it went away. There wasn't a Dickens Festival anymore, having moved to Southern Utah, and a family tradition was gone.
Until recently! While it has now closed it's doors for the year, the Dickens Festival, which started the first weekend in December and ran until just this last Saturday, was everything I remembered. They had live theater productions of Oliver and Scrooge (both shortened to 1 hour, but done very well), and they were fun to watch. Even my son, with his Autism, was thrilled with the performance of Oliver. Of course it helps when you know the directoress, and a couple of cast members, but he still enjoyed it with the crowds and all. It was a good experience for him.
The vendors were typical fair vendors with slightly higher priced items, but there were a couple that stuck out for me. The bread vendor had some great artisan breads that were fabulous. The gourmet popcorn vendor had an amazing assortment of interesting flavors (I really liked the coconut and curry popcorn!). There was a wooden toy vendor that had a wooden top with a string and a handle for launching that provided so much joy for my son that I had to buy one. And lastly, there was a vendor for women's dresses that were decidedly Steampunk in nature. I don't mean glued-on gears or that nonsense, but rather a modern take on the bodice, the length and cut of the fabric, and colors. I was impressed. And to top it all off, they had a carriage ride for those willing to brave the foggy air and cold (gee, just like London!), reindeer, and a Father Christmas for the kids.
While it has closed down for the year, it's never too late to check out some of the great theater clips kept by the staff. They can be found at http://dickenstheaterco.blogspot.com/ for those who are interested. Also, if you would like to volunteer next year, that's the place to look! There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes as well as on stage, and they are thrilled for any who would like to help make every year a success.
Thanks for everyone who brought this Christmas tradition back for me and my family, and many others across the valley. The Dickens Festival is a little-known holiday treasure that needs more recognition.