Up & Coming Weekly

November 17, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM NOVEMBER 18-24, 2020 UCW 13 COVER STORY 'In the Spirit of Dickens' kicks off holiday season downtown by KEYURI PARAB 'A Dickens Holiday' holds a special place in the hearts of many area residents. Locals look forward to coming together and kickstarting the holiday season with this festive event in downtown Fayetteville. Like so many other traditions in 2020, this year's event will be a little different due to the pandemic, but par- ticipants will still be able to enjoy the beloved event inspired by Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." "is is the 21st year we are doing this festival, usually it happens the day after anksgiving," said Antonio Renteria, director of operations for the Arts Council of Fayetteville. "It started off as a way to bring traffic from the mall area to downtown and focus on those small busi- nesses. It grew from there," he said. Instead of a one-day event, this year's celebration is titled 'In the Spirit of Dickens,'" and also offers events on the two weekends before anksgiving with musicians and other performers. "We'll have some carolers out there and cut outs to bring the holiday season even sooner," Renteria said. e holiday may look different this year, but the Arts Council is using the opportunity to return the focus to supporting downtown merchants, he said. Merchants will be doing different specials leading up to the main festival on Nov. 27. e festival won't have the usual fireworks or the candlelight proces- sion. Also absent this year will be the arts and crafts vendors set up in the downtown area. "ese are some things that we are not doing to mediate some of the larger crowds," Renteria said. "We are encouraging merchants to bring out holiday gear and come out of their shops and decorate," he said. "We'll have the Fayetteville Orchestra, and dif- ferent actors, like the Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past. walking up and down the streets." is year's festival will be a combination of efforts with the Arts Council and Cool Springs Downtown District to bring a unique shopping experience. What we do plan to do is still support our mission of combining the arts in support of our local busi- ness and restaurants, that will also allow us to help support our local artists that have been out of work since March, said Robert Pinson, interim president/ CEO of the Arts Council. "e idea is that you may not know exactly what is happening downtown, but you know that there is something fun to see and do and shop, or a great restaurant for lunch or dinner," Pinson said. Some of the other attractions downtown for the festival will include Coventry Carolers, local adult and youth musicians from Fayetteville Symphony, brass quartets and Dickens character actors from the Cape Fear Regional eatre. "One of my favorite things that we are doing, and I am glad we are getting a chance to do it again this year, is the 'Gingerbread Community of Hope' … a gingerbread house competition," Renteria said. e competition is open to the public, there's no cost to enter, and you can go online to sign up, he said. e Encore Academy will display entries in their windows beginning Nov. 23, Pinson said. "e houses will be up that Monday before and stay up the whole week, so people can come downtown, look at them, scan the QR code and vote on the ones they like," Renteria said. "It's a public competition so the community really gets to come out and decide which is the best one." e winner of the competition will receive a $250 prize and will be announced the weekend of the event. e Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum will be doing story time for children and there will be horse drawn carriage rides, said Metoya Scott, public relations manager for the Arts Council. Like every other year, attendees and visitors are encouraged to dress up in Dickens-themed or Victo- rian clothing, and a guide to the dress code is avail- able on the Arts Council's website, Renteria said. e Arts Council will stream certain events live on the festival's event page on Facebook for those who don't feel comfortable coming downtown due to the pandemic. "For me the biggest thing you're coming for is … is getting to see the carolers and Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Past, walking around and really just get you into that holiday spirit," Renteria said. e event will end the evening of Nov. 27 with the lighting of the community Christmas tree in front of the Arts Council. "If you're looking for a way to forget about 2020 a little bit, then get outside and enjoy the holiday season for the pure sake of it just being the holidays, Renteria said. "is is definitely time to come out and do it and leave with a smile on your face." For more information about 'In the Spirit of Dick- ens,' visit https://www.theartscouncil.com/feature/ dickens-holiday Photos of previous Dickens Holiday events courtesy of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. KEYURI PARAB, Editorial Assistant COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com 910-484-6200.

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