(Warning Lots of Photos!)
"It is a truth universally acknowledged..." that I am a most devoted fan of Jane Austen. What might not be as well known is that I have never been to an event or meeting of any kind where Jane Austen (hitherto dubbed JA) is the focus. So I was overjoyed to discover The Jane Austen Festival at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville, KY was not only about two hours from my new home but also was to be held on the two days before my 25th birthday!
(Click on photos below for larger view)
Saturday the 21st dawned clear and cool and there was a lovely breeze (even further south) that kept us cool all day. I donned a new skirt and blouse, my "Austen Addict" necklace and took half an hour to put my hair up into something slightly resembling a Regency up-do (my hair is so thick it took loads of hairpins!).
My dad and I hit the road at 8am, put Sense & Sensibility (1995) on the DVD player in our van and quoted along with it as we traveled distance south to the historic part of Louisville.
I got so excited as soon as I saw the signs for the "Jane Austen Festival" that I let out a few squeals and snapped a few photos right away!
After paying the admission fee we parked where directed on the the back lawn which was fast filling up with cars. Then we made our way to the visitors center where we were supplied with papers entitled "The Meryton Gazette" that included a schedule of events and a handy map of the grounds. We also checked out the Afternoon Tea table settings, silent auction items and other booths in the visitors center.
There were many events throughout the day and even more on Sunday but I'm going to share with you all of the events we personally attended.
The Shops of Meryton were set up in tents at the side and back of the Museum House so we made our way thither to check out their wares. There were so many fascinating things to look at!
Many Regency style items were available including fabric, pre-made clothing, shawls, bonnets, sewing patters and notions, jewelry and trinkets, Bingley's Teas, writing desks, feather pens and inkwells, handmade paper, guns, swords, compasses, spy glasses, Regency style playing cards and other games.
As we started to make our way to the Green where the first event was to take place, a group of Regency attired folks walked by and a particular lady with a red spenser and shawl, smart hat and pretty parasol caught my eye!
Her outfit was gorgeous and in looks and dress she was exactly my idea of Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park! I took several photos! :)
On the Green we assembled with other folks for the How To Fence event led by a gentleman in Regency attire who introduced himself as "The Doctor" (I almost wanted to ask if he had a spaceship). He was quite witty and kept in character most of the time he was talking.
He taught the "young maidens" how to: hold a sword, stand, advance, retreat and lunge. A few young ladies and a young boy came forward to practice and one lady even brought a parasol along to practice lunging with!
Our fencing lesson over we repaired to a shady grove where the Side Saddle Demonstration with Bill and Deborah Glidden was held.
The Gliddens are horse trainers and historic reenactors who present the history of horseback riding at various historic events such as Colonial Williamsburg, Civil War Reenactments and Wild West shows. Their talk was highly informative and helped me personally to understand the reasoning behind the riding habit, side saddle, the how and when a lady would ride and even how fast people were allowed to ride in London's Hyde Park during the Regency period.
I think I'll do a separate post on what I learned in the Side Saddle demonstration because it was very interesting and helped me understand horse riding in Jane Austen's time a bit better. While I was listening it made me think of Fanny Price and Mary Crawford who are avid horsewomen in Mansfield Park and Marianne Dashwood having to refuse Willoughby's gift of a horse in Sense and Sensibility.
As it was quite close to lunchtime my father and I repaired to the Earl of Sandwich Shop, located in the Museum House's seperate kitchens building, where we purchased sandwiches, delicious scones and ice cold pink lemonade. 'Twas very refreshing!
My distinguished papa waiting in line with me to get lunch. I was so glad to have him along as he shares my love of Jane Austen. Perhaps it has something to do with reminiscing about their Navy days but my parent's favorite novel is Persuasion and my dad especially enjoys quoting Sir Walter Elliot. It's always fun hanging out with my dad because similar to Henry Tilney he has a wonderful sense of humor and "knows muslin", by which I mean he has great knowledge of everything from cars, to computers, to antique furniture, to appreciation of handcrafts like embroidery and sewing.
After lunch we gathered with many other people under the Big Tent that was set up on the far side of the house for the presentation Dressing Mr. Darcy with Brian Cushing talking about men's fashion in Regency England. The talk could have more rightly been entitled "Undressing Mr. Darcy" because the gentleman leading the talk started fully clothed and talked about each piece of clothing as he took them off.
Mr. Cushing was highly entertaining and answered many questions from the audience after his talk. He reminded me more in looks of Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park rather than Mr. Darcy.
I have a post almost prepared that will detail some of the things Mr. Cushing talked about so be on the lookout for that!
(Read my post Dressing Mr. Darcy - JA Festival 2012)
Next in the Big Tent was the Regency Fashion Show which was probably my favorite event of the day.
I am not going to elaborate too much on it here because I have so many photos that I've decided to do a separate post on that. So you'll just have to be contented with the photo above for now! :)
(Read my post: Regency Style Fashion Show - JA Festival 2012)
After a short break for refreshments and a stop at the restrooms we went back to the Big Tent and caught the last half of Austen-itis: Sickness and Health in the Novels of Jane Austen by Dr. Cheryl Kinney. As a medical doctor her insight into the health conditions of the characters in JA's novels was extensive and very interesting. I'm planning another post to mention some of the tidbits I found very useful!
A little after 3pm dad and I went into the Museum House to explore. The house was built in the 1790's so the wallpaper, furniture, china and other decorations are spot on with what JA and her characters would have had in their homes.
My dad greatly enjoys antique furniture and this period of lighter furniture, between the heavy Georgian woods and the heavily brocade and decorated pieces of the Victorian era, is his favorite. These are pieces similar to what might be found at Northanger Abbey where Catherine Morland was surprised by finding nothing in the furniture or decorations that could be called "Gothic" or "Mysterious".
There were several lovely writing desks and the workmanship on the bureaus was exquisite!
It was delightful going into each room and seeing them set up as if the occupants of the house had just stepped out for Sunday meeting and would be home any moment! :)
There was Regency clothing on display in each room of the house but particularly in the upstairs Ballroom there were gorgeous outfits on display!
My favorite was a bedroom with a bed and windows draped in this gorgeous toile fabric! The combination of the red design on the yellow background was just stunning! :)
Upstairs there sat one of the ladies who designed all of the costumes on display. There was also another lady giving a Bobbin Lace Demonstration, her work was so lovely!
After the house we browsed through the Shops of Meryton that we hadn't been in before and at one shop I bought this lovely fan:
So pretty and it gives great air flow. Hopefully in years to come I will be able to add it to the Regency outfit I'm wanting to make.
We also visited a tent where a gentleman was making marbled paper! We enjoyed hearing him tell about how he mixes his water based paints and bile and then see him use the reeds to drop paint into this frame of thickened water. He then used smaller metal tools to create a design in the paint before putting the large piece of handmade paper on the water to soak up the paint design.
Here is the result:
It was fascinating to watch him make this marbled paper right before our eyes! :)
Our last stop before leaving was back at the Visitors Center where I bought these Regency silhouette design bookmarks and note cards. My dad also bought me this JA Festival T-shirt.
On the way home Dad and I discussed the festival a bit and a question about something in Persuasion came up so I read aloud most of Chapter 21 where Mrs. Smith tells Anne Elliot about Mr. Elliot's history and true nature. Before I knew it time had slipped by and we were almost home!
One of the most fun things was seeing so many folks dressed up in Regency attire and the many idyllic scenes that were just like one of JA's novels or a film adaptation! I spent a good portion of my time complimenting many ladies on their lovely gowns and hairstyles.
|My dad's favorite dress because it fit her so well and was such a lovely color. Her guy's shirt reads "I am Mr. Darcy"!|
A few times I caught myself gushing too much over the Regency outfits and feeling a bit like Miss Bates in Emma: "Must not compliment, I know -- (eyeing Emma most complacently) -- that would be rude -- but upon my word, Miss Woodhouse, you do look --".
So I shall leave you with some of my favorite scenes from the festival!
And last but not least my favorite scene!!!
A group of young ladies gathered underneath a shady tree enjoying late afternoon picnic fare.
I couldn't help giving a happy sigh and wishing that one day that could be me and my dearest blogging friends under that tree sharing giggles and quoting Jane Austen to our hearts content!
I'm not exactly sure what the next few years will hold but one day we simply must get together and enjoy an event like this!
So how was the Jane Austen Festival of 2012? Heavenly!
As my first time at an event of this kind I completely enjoyed myself! I'm so very thankful for the opportunity to go! I learned a lot about Regency history and fashions that I'll be able to put to good use as I continue to blog, and depend upon it I will be talking about the JA Festival for months! :)
I hope you enjoyed this step back in time. Be on the lookout for posts about Riding Side Saddle, Dressing Mr. Darcy, the Regency Fashion Show and Sickness and Health in the Novels of Jane Austen where I'll detail a few more of the things I learned.
Which of the events I mentioned above sound most interesting to you?
Have you ever been to a festival like this?
Would you be interested in attending the Jane Austen Festival next year? or would the distance be too far?
Very Truly Your's,