For more than a month, my dear readers have put up with my posts in anticipation of the Jane Austen Festival. I thank you for your patience and ask you to indulge me through one more… my review of this year’s festivities.
This was the second trip to Locust Grove in Louisville, Kentucky for my daughters-age 13 and 9-and myself and I am finally able to pinpoint why I love it so much-besides the obvious gratification of my Jane Austen obsession. This festival is a feast for the eyes for anyone interested in Regency period costuming.
This year turned into a particularly beautiful display of historic costuming because of an attempt by the organizers to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people in Regency costume assembled in one location. The record is 409 people, set I believe in 2009 in Bath, England, which is the home of the Jane Austen Centre. Unfortunately, festival organizer Bonny Wise says we fell a bit short at 358 people. Perhaps we’ll try again next year-and let me tell you, if you love historic clothing, you’ll welcome a do-over… it was wonderful to see the wide variety of gorgeous dresses, cravats, hats, and parasols.
I noticed a large number of spectators-and festival goers-with smartphones, taking photos and video during the promenade (myself included). I’m sure I’m not the only one who was struck by the way history and modern technology cross paths.
I was very pleased with how my daughter’s outfits came together-they both received several nice compliments from fellow attendees.
This year, we decided to shop first. I love the vendors-there are all kinds of gorgeous items for sale. You can literally purchase an entire Regency outfit including hats, hat pins, gloves, turban broaches, feathers, and ribbons at the festival. My girls decided they wanted parasols. My younger daughter found a beautiful hand painted child’s parasol and a handmade doll at The Marquette Trading Company. Both were very reasonably priced. My eldest daughter found an exquisite lace parasol at Pride in Parasols. This vendor also had several museum pieces for sale, which I absolutely drooled over.
Of course, no trip would be complete without a purchase at Bingley Tea’s. They have an entire series of teas to match the characters in Jane’s novels. We really love Compassion for Mrs. Bennett’s Nerves and we also bought a box of Marianne’s Wild Abandon.
The Daniel Boone Trading Post is a great vendor-he has some really beautiful glassware, tea sets, writing desks, pipes, lanterns, jewelry, and more. We had to stock up on ink for our quills and Lily bought a wooden fan.
There were a number of fun activities, including a Mr. Darcy look-alive contest, a play about Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, a Cricket match, a duel, and a bare-knuckle boxing demonstration, which my younger daughter found particularly amusing.
Someone brought this fabulous sedan chair to the festival and they allowed a few lucky people to take a ride.
In Regency England, sedan chairs were mainly used by the elderly or the infirm. This one is gorgeous-and the girls really enjoyed the chance to sit inside and have their photo taken.
If you go to the festival next year, you must look for the cellar, on the side of the house nearest the Earl of Sandwich Shoppe. There you will find the shadow puppet theater. It’s a cool respite from the July heat and the reader and his wife (I presume) have an amazing setup-some beautiful puppets and fascinating stories which are read from authentic 19th century story collections.
Of course, we toured Locust Grove again. I spent a great amount of time in the dining room and took photos of all the clothing and dishes on display because, frankly, I’m nuts like that.
Finally, it was time for tea!
There are countless other features of this two day event which I haven’t mentioned-including a Regency ball that happens on Saturday night, which the girls and I plan to attend in a few years! Suffice it to say, if you are even a remote fan of Jane Austen, the festival is a lot of fun and well worth the admission price. We’ll be back next year for certain and we hope to see you all there!