I am a lover of language, and where beautiful language is concerned, no author tops Jane Austen.
But when I read her novels, I’m also fascinated at her clever grasp of human nature: You can’t explore her characters without seeing so many of the same funny quirks that make up the people you know, or without discovering tendencies you see in yourself! I love reading and finding that, no matter how much times passes and how much society changes, people are pretty much the same as they have always been.
And of course the history lover in me finds such beauty in the era of Austen’s writing. So when the Jane Austen Festival for North America is a mere 35 minute drive from your home, you have to make the effort to attend! And of course you take your daughters along…especially when one of them is an even bigger Janeite than her mother! What a perfect girls’ day, right?
The festival was held at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville.
The house was built around 1792 by William and Lucy Clark Croghan, Lucy being the sister of George Rogers Clark, Revolutionary War hero and founder of Louisville, and of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame. In fact, Lewis and Clark stopped in at the house on their way back from their expedition to the Pacific. You can even step over the original threshold, the same one Lewis and Clark would have stepped over to enter the home. (Yeah, I get really nerdy about stuff like that.)
The festival is a celebration not only of Jane Austen, but of all things of the Regency Period. There was a Grand Ball, a period style show, and tea parties, which we missed since we could only attend one afternoon of the 2 1/2 day festival. But there were also shadow puppet story readings, a gentlemens’ duel reenactment…
and a display of some bare knuckle boxing.
There was an encampment of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy to check out…
and a Regency Emporium filled with period goods and Jane Austen memorabilia.
We just loved the shopping! There were more wares than I could ever list here, but our favorites were probably the dresses, shoes, cloaks, and hats.
And of course I had to buy something! My girls wanted a fancy tea, so…
We tried this tea hot of course, since that’s the truly authentic way to drink it, but I’m afraid we’re too American and too southern for that! It works for iced tea, however. The floral tones are a little strong for me, but this tea made for a pretty mean Arnold Palmer!
And let me just add that this tea smells so good brewing that I really want to brew tea in every room of the house, just to fill my home with the fragrance!
I bought a little lilac toilet water, too. It’s not often you find lilac-scented fragrances, so I was ecstatic! I’ve been in love with lilac ever since we lived in this little house with two lilac bushes outside the back door. In the spring I’d step out on my porch and be overwhelmed with the most delicious fragrance I think I have ever encountered in nature.
But I’m getting off-track here. Anyway, I bought some lilac toilet water.
The apothecary shop even featured hairdressers who would give you a Regency style using only early 19th century tools. My girls loved watching this. And let me just say I’m thankful for blow dryers, curling irons, and hairspray.
We also loved the Regency Promenade, where 500 people dressed in Regency attire participated. It was just fun watching so much loveliness pass us by.
There were workshops at the festival as well, covering historical facts of the Regency era, and discussing popular foods, beverages, and activities of the time. There was more information available about that period in history than I think anyone could possibly absorb.
But I really think my favorite part of the event was just wandering and observing. It was a little like stepping back in time and observing an era I’m sad I missed out on…
It all made for a delightful girls’ day! And I’m already looking forward to the next Jane Austen Festival!
*For more information about upcoming events and future festivals, visit JasnaLouisville.com
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