Riverside is hardly the first place one thinks of when contemplating a festival dedicated to all things Charles Dickens, that 19th century creator of very large, very English novels—all cravats, meat pies, workhouses, traveling theatrical troupes and rages against the industrial age and its horrible, corrosive effects. (Hey, sounds like urban blight. Maybe that’s our connection!)
In any case, the fine people with the Riverside Dickens fest are taking over major portions of downtown this weekend in order to party like it’s 1869. There’ll be myriad Dickens-inspired proceedings—some free enough that the Artful Dodger could get in, others costing a few more pence. Free events include literary symposiums, a parade that’ll include the Gordon Highlanders (kilts, man—have you ever fought for your freedom?) and a street fair with plenty of stuff to buy, like toys, crafts, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.
Pluck down $30 for Pickwick’s Pub Night at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, where you’ll find authentic Victorian-age entertainment and copious amounts of booze. There will also be a mini-fair for the waifish street urchin in your life, as well as stick-and-ball games, crafts and Punch and Judy shows. For those who want to make your Dickens celebration a little more sedentary, the Riverside Library will be hosting several book discussions, attempting to place Dickens in the context of his time. It’s a great way to grab a small bit of our endangered cultural heritage and quaff a few pints, shaking your corseted tail feathers while you’re at it. (Donald Powell)
The Riverside Dickens Festival in downtown Riverside, Mission Inn Ave. between Lime and Orange, (951) 781-3168; www.dickensfest.com. Fri.-Sat., various hours. For fees, see web site.