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Coronavirus Causes Cancellation of Victorian Wonderland at Historic Cow Palace
SAN FRANCISCO, June 15, 2020 ~ Red Barn Productions announced today that the 2020 Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party scheduled for November 21 - December 20 at the San Francisco Cow Palace has been canceled.
The annual holiday event was beginning preparations for its 38th season when the coronavirus shutdown began in March. Anticipating the quarantine would be lifted by late summer, the production company moved forward with its plans until now. “The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing and State restrictions for mass gatherings are clearly continuing through the end of the year,” said Kevin Patterson, Dickens Fair co-producer. “Sadly, we cannot go forward with our 2020 season. Our priority must be the health and safety of our community, including guests, performers, staff, vendors, and volunteers.”
This will mark the first time in 20 years that Red Barn Productions has not mounted its elaborate and immersive re-creation of Charles Dickens’ Victorian London at the Cow Palace in Daly City. The last cancellation took place in 1989 because of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, when the fair was scheduled to open at Pier 45 in San Francisco. It took 12 more years before the event found its longtime home at the Cow Palace in 2000.
“We recognize the repercussions of this decision for all those who rely on us to create our Dickensian world each holiday,” said Drew Patterson, production manager in charge of building the detailed streets, pubs, shops and theaters that occupy over three acres of exhibition halls. “This year we were especially looking forward to adding a whole new area to the show. However, we must consider the well-being of our designers and builders who would have to begin assembling sets this summer, as well as our participants and guests were we to open.”
“Although we will miss gathering in person, we intend to bring the heart of Dickens into everyone’s homes this winter,” Kevin Patterson said. “We are using this forced hiatus to create a gift for our fans, and are coming together with our performers, vendors, and craftspeople to present ‘Dickens Fair at Home’ via our website and social media channels.”
Patterson is encouraging the public to join the Dickens Fair mailing list and to follow the Fair on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for upcoming theatrical surprises, access to one-of-a-kind gifts, and exclusive content. “Charles Dickens himself will give a live reading of A Christmas Carol, and Father Christmas will read and respond to children’s holiday wishes,” Patterson continued. 'Dickens Fair at Home' will bring the liveliness of Victorian London and the warmth of human kindness into our homes this winter. Even with the State restrictions, Christmas is not cancelled.”
About the Dickens Christmas Fair:
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair was originally conceived and created by Ron and Phyllis Patterson in 1970, inspired by their successful Renaissance Pleasure Faire (the first Renaissance Faire in America) which they brought to the San Francisco Bay Area during the Summer of Love in 1967. Their son Kevin Patterson, along with his co-producers, wife Leslie and eldest son Andrew, have helmed the Dickens Fair since 2000; along with son Michael and Punch & Judy Puppetmaster brother Brian Patterson, the Patterson family continues a 50-year tradition of presenting deeply immersive, historically authentic environmental theater.