By Grace Apostol
Chestertown was in the full swing of Christmas celebration the weekend of Dec. 2 and 3. The fifth annual Dickens of a Christmas Festival took place for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown hit, and the Soroptimist International of Kent and Queen Anne’s County hosted a Festival of Trees located in the First United Methodist Church located in Chestertown.
From 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, the church hosted numerous trees decorated by several organizations of the community. Visitors were able to vote for their favorite decorated trees, and poinsettias were on sale for patrons to purchase.
According to the Historic Chestertown Website, “This is a community event that allows the community for all ages to visit a display of trees decorated by businesses, organizations as well as families. This is our way of saying thank you to the community for helping Soroptimist with the betterment of women and girls.”
On Friday from 5 to 9 p.m, Chestertown held the opening celebrations for the Dickens of a Christmas Festival on High Street. An opening ceremony was held from 5 to 5:15 p.m., followed by performances from the Kent County High School Jazz Band & Garnet Elementary School Chorus and Bucket Band and the River Voices of Chester River Chorale.
Also at the festival were food trucks and beverage vendors for visitors to purchase while enjoying the activities.
Besides the musical performances, several other attractions were occurring during the opening night, including an east coast entertainment group called “Big Whimsy.” This group included professional stilt walkers, who interacted with the crowd, and wore glowing garb that lit up the night.
The two stilt performances present at the festival were Nina Amaya and Jeff Beringer who interacted with the crowd while dressed in glowing Victorian Era costumes.
According to Amaya, this was their fourth time participating in the festival.
“Well we have been to a lot of different events, but we will be here tomorrow from 10 to 4 p.m.,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”
Also included within performance festivities was George Esparza’s Phydaux’s Flying Flea Circus and Wahoo Medicine Show. Esparza travels all around the country performing 130-year-old flea circuses and medicine shows to present-day audiences.
“In the heyday of the flea circuses, they used to actually import them from Russia,” Esparza said. “For a historical point, during the Revolutionary War, flea circuses were all the rage. They actually did mock naval battles with the fleas.”
According to Esparza, he has been in this performing business for over 20 years.
“I was doing this for fun, and I started traveling to rodeos and…it’s an interesting gig,” he said.
The volunteers of the Chestertown event dressed up in Victorian style clothing to create an ambiance of Dickens’ time.
One of these volunteers was Chris Kelly ’11, who also dressed in the thematic style.
“We were able to go to the costume shop and raid their costume shop, and we put together some of what we had at home too,” she said.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, featured events included Holiday Tea, a book talk, a Victorian Dinner, amongst many others. Horse carriage rides were also offered to the general public during the nights of the festival as well.
For more information on the weekend’s events, visit the “Main Street Chestertown” at https://mainstreetchestertown.org/events/dickens/.
Photo by Grace Apostol
Photo Caption: Juniors Sarah Cangialosi and Delaney Runge were among those who enjoyed the festivities at the Dickens of a Christmas Festival.