Touring Company Brings Dickens to Historic Smithville, NJ

GALLOWAY TWP. – Tucked away in this coastal Atlantic County town is the village known as Historic Smithville, where heritage inns, bed and breakfasts, shops and a scenic lake come together in one of New Jersey’s best-kept secrets.

Tourists can take a pedal boat on the lake, ride a carousel, or take a train ride.

But as the weather cools, in anticipation of these attractions being closed for the winter, a special group of visitors is hosting one of the last major outdoor events of the year.

“Dickens Fest”, a free two-day festival, is made possible by the participation of the Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company of Burlington and their original musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ iconic novel “A Christmas Carol”.

This year, the performances of the show will take place on Saturday November 27 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday November 28 at 1 p.m.

Executive Director Clyde Riddlesbrood said the company’s connection to Historic Smithville dates back two decades, to 2001, but much of the history of the troupe’s previous performances there was in the interior.

Then COVID-19 hit.

So, as the 2020 holiday season approached, Riddlesbrood approached the village with the idea of ​​presenting Dickens’ Christmas tale as an outdoor festival.

“They loved the idea,” he said.

While this is not a source of income for the theater company, tourism continues to take hold in the village and has been remarkable enough to have a recall as one of Historic Smithville’s top attractions this fall.

“I don’t think, even when COVID goes away, if we’ll ever go back to the old-fashioned way,” Riddlesbrood said, adding that “Christmas Carol” is unique to his company because it’s one of the few suitable pieces that they attack each other. , as opposed to the originals. “I think in some ways we like it even better than what we used to do. So, maybe it was a coincidence.”

Much of the rest of the village charm revolves around The historic Smithville Inn (est. 1787), but there are also other restaurants, and dozens of shops, to explore along the cobblestones.

For more information on historic Smithville, call the Colonial Inn Bed and Breakfast at 609-748-8999, and to find out what else Riddlesbrood does throughout the year, visit

If you have an idea for a next part of “Discovering New Jersey”, contact Patrick Lavery, afternoon presenter, on Twitter @ plavery1015 or send an email to [email protected]

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