Thursday, July 24, 2014

It is a truth universally acknowledged...

...that when there is an opportunity to attend the 7th Annual Jane Austen Festival, you take it.

   Costumes donned, hair curled, reticules filled with hard earned pence.... two of my friends and I embarked on the two and a half hour ride to Louisville, Kentucky this past weekend for a day of Austentatious bliss.   And bliss it truly was!  I spruced up my regency afternoon dress and helped Ali and Becca do the same.  One thing missing from each of our costumes was a perfect bonnet, and our plan for the day was to return home with just that.

   I will apologize in advance; I did not bring my Nikon to the event since I did not feel like lugging it around, so all we have is mobile pictures.  But nonetheless there is quite a bit to share.

Ali showing off her new fan
   We arrived at the beautiful historic Locust Grove at around eleven, just as the first high tea was starting.  The grounds were gorgeous; elegant gardens, brick paths, stately buildings, sweet smelling air.  After stopping by the tea room and getting our tags for the promenade, we headed to see the rest of the event.  This year we were going to attempt to break the Guinness Book of world record for most people in regency attire.  Up to this point, the Jane Austen festival in Bath, England, held the record at 409.

   The main attraction was definitely the Shops at Meryton.  A horseshoe bend of crisp tents sported shop after shop of feathered bonnets, bright colored dresses, lace parasols and more.  There was so much to look at!  Right off I spotted my bonnet, and bought it straight away to wear for the rest of the day.

  Soon after my two lovely companions found their dream hats.  The shops were full of so many beautiful things!  I ended up getting a bonnet and a riding hat, as well as a fan.  My next costume project: a regency riding habit. ;)

The picture of my riding hat I took when I got home.
    After shopping the morning away and getting a bite to eat, we assembled for the gentlemen's duel on the green.  While we were waiting, we set eyes on a very exciting sight.

  Mr. Darcy!!!  We just had to get a picture with him, so Becca and I snuck this one in.  Look at those gloves!  And his stature and poise!  He was definitely a true Austen hero.  Although I'm afraid he noticed our whispers.  Ah well, it was well worth it.

    At last it was time to assemble for the promenade.  They had cameras ready for filming the event, and everyone was counted.  We walked in pairs.  Becca, Ali and I had the great privilege of being asked by the Lieutenant's wife if we would like to be escorted by three of the navy officers, since they had no ladies to escort.  What a privilege!  Our giddiness was too hard to contain.  I mean out of almost 400 other ladies they chose us three!!  Oh the excitement!  I felt like Lydia Bennet to the extreme.

   This video was made of the festival, and the promenade is in it.   You can see me at 2:39 on the far right in the green dress.  I was so excited to be on there!!!  They did such a good job filming it!
    After strolling about in our grand parade, we all assembled on the green to hear the final count.  And when it was announced, the entire crowd cheered!  We had beat England by ALMOST EIGHTY PEOPLE!!!!!  Bonnets and top hats flew into the air.   It was such an exciting moment, to be part of breaking a world record.  And what a fun way to do it!

    All around I was so happy to have had the opportunity to attend this event.  I wish I would have taken better pictures but there was so much to do and see that I am happy I did not have that very un-period-correct camera bag to drag around.  There was so much more I could have shared but time and lack of photos made it a bit difficult.  Next year the three of us have plans to make regency ball gowns and go to the grand ball following the festival.  We made plans to go this time long after tickets for the ball were sold out, but now we have a year to plan in advance.

   Have any of you ever been to the festival?  I would love to see some of you there next year!

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