By Grace Apostol
The holiday season once again is upon us, and with it comes the annual Charles Dickens Festival located on High Street in Chestertown, Md.
Due to inclement weather canceling the festivities Friday, Dec. 1, this year’s events took place only on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Decorated with large, colorful rugs laid across the pavement and fires stoking, High Street was filled with residents, visitors, and performers of the festival.
Shayne Boucher, a member of the antique bike organization “The Wheelman”, came with the company to showcase to the public the several types of antique bicycle transportation from the nineteenth century.
“I also bought a special model where people can go ahead and get on the bike just to get a sense of what it is like to be on a high wheel,” Boucher said. “I’ve had kids as small as three-years-old and as old as 84-years-old grandma that got on the bike today.”
According to Boucher, “The Wheelman” organization has chapters in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the Potomac region that were present at the festival for their sixth year of attendance.
Also present for entertainment was the Baltimore City Pipe Band showing off several bagpipes and drums for visitors to enjoy.
Megan Amoss, a pipe major in the band that has been around since 1966, said that this was the group’s first time at the Dickens event.
“We’re from Baltimore, so it’s nice to be asked to come here,” Amoss said. “This is good Scottish weather, a little bit cool, a little bit damp, so the pipes are enjoying it.”
A stage was set up in the middle of High Street as the main attraction of the day, where several performers, including the Baltimore City Pipe Band and The American Rogues, a celtic band, which closed out the celebration.
The festival also featured several food stalls that advertised oysters, hotdogs, shepherd’s pie, beer, wine, and a plethora of other cuisines. Shopping stations included handmade floral arrangements and a UK themed one stop shop where patrons could peruse.
Several visitors of the annual event were dressed up to mimic the attire of what one would wear in a nineteenth century Dickens novel. Two of these participants were Tom Rhodes, an employee of the Church Hill Theater and Mary Valenti-Bloom who have been dressing up for the festivities since the first year of the event in 2017.
“Part of what we did when they first started organizing it was select all the costumes and get all the costumes for all the people that do this, as well as the performers and so forth,” Rhodes said.
According to Rhodes and his wife Pam, many of the costumes have come from local theaters in the county that are willing to donate them for the event.
Though they are not a part of the volunteers who help run the event, the Rhodes and Valenti-Bloom still come out to the festival dressed in Dickens-nines to enjoy all it has to offer.
For more information on this annual Chestertown event, please visit https://www.mainstreetchestertown.org/dickens-festival/.
Photo Caption: Visitors and community members celebrate Dickens’ legacy
Photos by Grace Apostol