MODESTO -- Ebenezer Scrooge might find malicious satisfaction in the threat of rain dampening spirits at today's holiday Dickens Faire but organizers of the annual McHenry Mansion event refuse to let mere weather darken any Christmas hearts.
The Victorian-inspired Dickens Faire and Modesto Certified Farmers Market will go on, despite the forecast, said Sande Nerland, a McHenry Mansion Foundation board member and chairwoman of this year's festival.
"We hope people will come," Nerland said, adding that the farmers market outside the mansion always goes on, rain or shine. "They're used to rain," she said.
Marie Uber, manager of the farmers market, pointed out that forecasts suggest a possible respite from the rain, enough to fit in the festival, set from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. across 15th Street.
"We're certainly hoping for a bit of a break," Uber said. "It looks like there may be a window (this) morning until late in the afternoon, so that's what we're hoping for."
Also, Nerland pointed out, there will be plenty of indoor activities for people to enjoy if rain does materialize, with tours and music inside the historic McHenry Mansion just now reopening after fire damaged part of the interior last year as well as activities for children down the street at the McHenry Museum.
Free activities at the museum run from noon to 3 p.m. with storytelling at 1:15 and 2:15 p.m. in the auditorium. Central West Ballet dancers will perform there as well, at 12:45, 1:45 and 2:30 p.m.
"They'll decorate cookies, make ornaments, and there will be storytelling there," Nerland said of the museum's portion of the holiday program.
The McHenry Mansion, which has been undergoing a $2.4 million refurbishing after the fire, will be open today with rooms on the first and second floors decorated in Victorian holiday splendor and ready for viewing. Carolers will be inside the mansion, in the back parlor, offering songs of the season.
A basement display will show off what's been going on throughout the mansion's renovation, what's it's taken to replace all the damaged carpets and flooring, the drapes and more.
"And there will be a fellow showing how he does the faux woodwork that's all through the house," Nerland said. "He's going to demonstrate how he does that to make it look like natural wood."
Bagpipers, who normally stroll the fair, likely will take their place on the front porch during today's morning hours if rain does materialize, Nerland said.
There were 25 vendors registered to set up on the street in front of the mansion and at the nearby park, in addition to the large farmers market fare. They were given an option of going ahead and setting up outside the mansion or staying away from the wet weather, although Nerland was hopeful that most would show up.
Only the traditional wagon rides held for participants were canceled because of the expected storm, she said.
The mansion's gift store, once housed inside the historic building that dates to 1883, is now located a half-block down on 15th Street and will be open for festivalgoers as well.
Entertainment at the farmers market will include the Fun Strummers, Suzuki Strings and Margie Butler of Celtic band Golden Bough, who will bring a troupe of adult whistlers and a youth group of harpists, Uber said. Tents will be provided for the entertainment.
The Dickens Faire has become a holiday tradition, organized by the McHenry Mansion for six years. Planners haven't had to contend with rain in the past, Nerland said, although there were sprinkles the first year of the event. Last year's fair contended with some blustery winds in the morning, but the weather was clear and comfortable later in the day.
An estimated 2,000 people strolled the fair and market in 2011, Nerland said, with 1,700 going through the mansion.
"We had great weather last year, so I guess we're paying for it this year," she said. "We're going ahead with it, and we hope people will come out. You know, a lot of people like the rain, so we may have a better response than we think."