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Dickens Village Festival canceled, organizers looking forward to next year’s event

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As the Christmas capital of North Dakota, the city of Garrison transforms into a Christmas village during the holiday season. But like many other events this year, the Dickens Village Festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus.

Many are saddened by the news but are looking forward to next year already.

“We know it means a lot to our businesses, our guests and our community,” said McKaila Behles, director of the Garrison Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thanksgiving is next week, but for the people of Garrison, that means something totally different. Since 1994, the town has transformed into a Charles Dickens-era Victorian town — but not this year.

Behles added, “Unfortunately with added restrictions and increasing numbers, it just became impossible to be able to abide by them and make it happen safely.”

The festival normally takes place over the course of three weekends, bringing thousands of people from across the world to it each day it’s open.

Some businesses already feeling the impact from the pandemic say this is yet another blow to their business.

“It’s going to be very difficult to recover from this. Because a lot of businesses in town depend on that to end their year,” said Ginger Shearer, assistant manager of Ye Old Malt Shoppe.

She says normally the Dickens Fest is their busiest time of the year. But like everything else this year, they will get through it.

“In the long run, it will be a win. We love our people in North Dakota and the surrounding areas,” added Shearer.

Across the street at Flowers ‘N Things, owner Cindy Fennewald says she isn’t sure what not having the festival means for her business.

“Since I have been in business, there has always been Dickens so I’ve never been able to really gauge it,” said Fennewald.

With what would have been the 27th year of the festival gone, planners are already setting their eyes on next year’s event.

“We’re going to make it possible. We’re going to make it a festival that everyone will enjoy.
Sometimes when things go away you realize how much they truly meant to you,” added Behles.

A friendly reminder during this unsual holiday season.

Behles says people who purchased tickets will be refunded, and next year’s Dickens Festival has already been scheduled to kick off Nov. 26.

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