For the past 26 years, downtown Franklin has turned back the clock one weekend of the year and taken you back to the era when Ebenezer Scrooge had a sleepless night and Oliver Twist stole your heart while Fagin tried to steal from your pocket.
The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County is putting on their annual Dickens of a Christmas celebration on Main Street in downtown Franklin this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9. Dickens of a Christmas is a free street festival, is open to the public, and is expected to attract some 50,000 visitors, according to Nancy Williams, director of the Downtown Franklin Association, which is part of the Heritage Foundation. We talked to Nancy about the event and what goes into putting on the festivities:
How many people does it take to put the show on?
We have more than 300 volunteers assisting with everything from putting up chairs, selling souvenirs, serving refreshments, appearing as Dickensian characters and much more. The Heritage Foundation puts on four big street festivals every year — this one, the Main Street Festival, Brew Fest and Pumpkin Fest — which we work on year-round. We couldn’t do it without great community support.
How do you accomplish that?
First, we have many costumed volunteers who dress as characters from one of the great works by Dickens. You can expect to see Father Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge, Fagin and even the ghost of Jacob Marley. Not only do they dress the part, they act it as well. We encourage our guests to interact with the characters, who play the part to perfection. We also have many attendees’ that come dressed in Victorian-era clothing as well, which greatly enhances the experience.
Can you pick up Christmas presents while you are there?
We will have 75 arts-and-crafts booths, all products are handmade, and the artists will be there. Of course there will be holiday and many Victorian-themed items, but our focus is also on the Main Street retailers who pull out all the stops for you to have a great time.
Will there be any entertainment?
We have street music ranging from harpists to string ensembles and a stage where you can see Irish dancers and enjoy local choirs sing Christmas carols. We actually have a huge choir from a church in Alabama that comes up every year to take part. You can participate too, on Sunday the Ninth starting at 4:30 we have a town sing in the Public Square with candles and song sheets available.
OK, that takes care of the sights and sounds, what about the smells?
Well, you can’t leave on an empty stomach. You can get roasted chestnuts, probably one of the few places you can find them, sugarplums, turkey legs, fish and chips, and of course cider and hot chocolate to keep you warm.
Dickens of a Christmas is in downtown Franklin Dec. 8-9, 2012, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information visit historicfranklin.com.