I had a great time in Louisville two weekends ago at the second annual Jane Austen Festival at historic Locust Grove. The lovely Janeites of JASNA’s Louisville Region made me feel so welcome and overwhelmed me with their hospitality!
The event took place over two days, though the schedule was the same for both days so you could attend one day and see and do just about everything (though it would be a very jam-packed day and require very strict and lucky scheduling). I spoke about manners and society in the world of Jane Austen’s novels. There also was a fashion show with some incredible period costumes that looked like something out of a museum (in fact, many were copied from museum pieces) and “Dressing Mr. Darcy,” concentrating on gentleman’s costume.
A delicious tea was served by polite and attentive period-costumed young ladies; not only hot tea, of course, but sandwiches and scones and yummy desserts. I was introduced to the delights of Benedictine, a cream cheese concoction, invented in Louisville, that made delicious tea sandwiches.
There was a Regency Emporium with everything from books to bonnets, at which we did a little (cough) shopping; one of the vendors had some great period reproduction fabrics. It really was a joy for the costume geek; some attendees wore their period costumes all weekend, and others got tips for making new items. There were a lot of serious historical re-enactors and interpreters in the crowd, and the attention to detail in their costumes was magnificent.
On Saturday night, there was a ball, which was really fun. It was relaxed and friendly and welcoming to those of all skill levels, and made us think we really need to get involved in English country dancing on a local level.
I met so many great Janeites and they were just having so much darned fun. Just being there, communing with their fellow Janeites, talking about Jane, learning about life in her time, making jokes that only fellow Janeites would understand, dancing, shopping, and having fun; always with the having fun. “Are you having fun?” I would ask them, and their eyes would light up and they would smile and say, “Oh, yes, it’s wonderful!” And it was.
Locust Grove is a great old place, and the docents and caretakers and researchers and historical interpreters who look after her are dedicated to not only preserving the house and grounds but to teaching others about it.
The Editrix is armed. Be very afraid, O Philistines.
Many thanks to the indefatigable Bonny Wise, Regional Coordinator and event planner extraordinaire, and to all the JASNA-Louisville members who worked so hard on this event and made me feel so welcome (and GAVE ME THE CLUEBAT!!!)! Particular thanks to Deb Sexton, who tirelessly drove us around (and put up with our squeeing in the Louisville Slugger Museum without complaint), and Cynthia Cooke, who hosted us at her beautiful home, Bashford Manor.*
The Louisville Courier-Journal had a report about the event, which has some great photos since we were too busy gawking at everything to take many, and the Editrix had a chat with the Louisville Eccentric Observer, or LEO. (We hasten to add that we were NOT the creator of the event…that was Bonny Wise.)
*For those following the Saga of the Mysterious Chest in our room at Bashford Manor…it actually had drawers that were turned against the wall. I peeked; they seemed to contain bedlinens. Naturally. ;-)