Jane Austen Festival 2011
I've finally recovered enough to write a little something about this past weekend's Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove of Louisville, KY. I've been putting off this blog post for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I suffered from what I believe to be heat exhaustion this weekend. and quite possibly dehydration. The 90+ degree heat, plus every ounce of moisture from the Ohio River deciding to float up into the air and drench us with smothering humidity, made the weekend oppressive. At the time of the festival, I stubbornly refused to acknowledge any of that, but once home, it all caved in on me, and I've been recovering ever since. Secondly, I've read (and you can too) Sarah Jane's post on Romantic History and Natalie's post on A Frolic Through Time, and honestly, I can't think of anything I could say to rival their incredibly talented writing. They've said it best.
However, aside from the oppressive heat, Locust Grove was beautiful as always, and my husband and I had a marvelous time. I didn't get quite as many pictures of this year's Festival as last year's Festival. Hopefully, mine, combined with the photo's from others who went will be enough to satisfy your vicarious appetite.
Carson walked the grounds, following paths under the shade of the trees in the local forest, and discovered a fawn nestled down under a bush. I strolled though the green, taking in the sites of a couple having a picnic by a beautiful Phaeton. I would have loved a chance to ride in the carriage...maybe next year JASNA? I browsed though shops in "Meriton", limiting my purchase to a couple of stockings and some leather garters (Carson's stockings refused to stay above his knee without them.) I was sorely tempted to buy a gorgeous pair of green, leather shoes from Spencer's Mercantile , but left without them. I convinced myself that Spencer's Mercantile would be at the Fair at New Boston this Autumn, and that perhaps by then I would be able to afford them as a birthday gift to myself.
Most people at the festival wisely lingered in the shade. Even sitting under tents and trees, it was hot. Once again, I was able to see the Regency Fashion show presented by the incredibly talented seamstress Betsy Bashore. Due to insurance reasons, the side saddle riding display, the gentleman's dual, and the archery contest were canceled. I was desperately disappointed by this. I do hope, that in the future, the insurance issues will be resolved. These events will bring not only fabulous entertainment, but wonderful educational opportunities for the public.
In the spirit of Elizabeth Bennet, I took a short walk around the grounds. The garden's were in full (bee buzzing) bloom, and the small, but cool stone outbuildings were a refreshing reprieve. I was glad to have my parasol.
For me, the best part of the weekend was getting to meet (and see again) so many lovely on-line or historical events only (those people that I see only once or twice a year) friends. Sarah Jane, of Romantic History, and part of her sweet family were there. She is a sewing hero of mine, and I can't say enough about how kind, gentle and incredibly talented she is. Of course, I spent some time with the Bluegrass Regency Society Folks, Natalie, Polly, Sharon, and Caroline. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, and The Doctor and Miss Waterman were in attendance, It was wonderful to meet Maria Clemmons, as well as Kathy Chopra and Mr. and Mrs. Heink. Oh, and Deanna, Hannah, Stephanie, etc, etc, (so many, that I'm really sorry if I forget to mention you!) I only wish I lived closer to all of these dear people. Seeing them so rarely isn't enough for me.
Carson and I took tea on Saturday morning, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised this year at the quality of this tea. Last year, I complained a bit (sorry, JASNA Louisville), but this year they really outdid themselves. What a lovely brunch it was for us! We ate mini quiche, scones, benedictine sandwiches, and lavender rum cake....yum! I had a black tea named after Marianne from Sense and Sensibility (can't quite remember the name), but Carson had a decaffeinated blend called "Compassion for Mrs. Bennet's nerves." Clever...
We made it to the ball that evening without too much of a hitch. Being slightly familiar with Louisville helped me to navigate the streets fairly easily. The Ball was held in Spalding University's Grand Ball Room. It was a gorgeous open space, with wooden floors, balconies, high arched windows, and neo-classical inspired architectural decor. It put me in mind of Bath, England.
My camera batteries died after only a few minutes into the ball, so I don't have many pictures of the evening. There are some of me dancing on Sarah Jane's and Natalie's blogs.
But, suffice it to say that the dances were delightful, and the dancers were everything you could imagine them to be...graceful, jolly and light on their feet. Well turned calves and billowing gowns were abundant.
Carson and I stood up for 4 dances each. Maybe it's just that our confidence is growing, but I believe we are getting better at English Country Dancing.
I forgot the pins I was going to use to polonaise my train, but draping the robe over my arm worked just as well. And despite the heat and humidity, my hair held up rather well...much better than last year's ball where it drooped and wilted.
On Sunday of the Festival, we volunteered in the Hospitality room, making sure the vendors and volunteers were supplied with ample amounts of refreshments. This was not only an easy job, but a rewarding one as well. We were able to meet and converse with numerous reenactors
Now that the weekend is over, I face life "post Jane Austen festival." I always feel a slight let down when these events are over...kind of like the day after your birthday. I have an entire year to wait for the next event. But this also means that I can start a whole new planning process for outfits, accessories, etc., and I can relax a bit knowing that there is plenty of time to get everything done. No rushing anymore. Besides, now I can look forward to the Fair at New Boston and possibly Mississinewa in the Fall!