Last weekend we attended the Jane Austen Festival in Lousiville, Kentucky, hosted by the Jane Austen Society of North America.
I really meant to take a lot of pictures and I really meant to be on time, but neither of those things actually happened. You see, we are only a two hour drive from Louisville, but between the time zone difference and having to go back after 20 minutes of driving because we forgot Kate’s bonnet, we didn’t arrive until around noon. Oops.
So I was a little flustered but the time we got there. Luckily for us, a genius friend of mine shared an idea on Facebook that I promptly stole, so getting dressed in the parking lot was much easier than usual! We brought a small pop up tent, which meant we could comfortably change and not have to sit in the car for hours wearing our corsets or strip down to a flimsy chemise in the parking lot.
I am actually inside the tent in this picture.
It was definitely warm and a little cramped in the tent, but it was tall enough for me to stand up in (though Kate had to stoop a little) and perfect for what we needed! It folds down into a small circle and we ordered ours from Amazon. I highly recommend this for anyone that does outdoor events like Renaissance Faires or the Jane Austen Festival!
We were so lucky to have the most excellent weather we could expect bestowed upon us! The humidity was tolerable, and it was warm but below 90, and there was a slightly breeze. Pretty amazing for Kentucky in the middle of summer.
The site itself is beautiful and quite perfect for a day of shopping, picnicking and socializing. The house dates from the late 18th century, with a fully restored interior. The only downside to the site is that, being a large farm in the South, it was once largely worked by enslaved people. It’s an unfortunate reality of all the historic houses in the South, and I want to make sure I acknowledge that problematic aspect.
In the end, though, we were there to celebrate Jane Austen and her characters rather than the original inhabitants of the estate. We spent most of our time at our “home base” next to the tent shared by Dames a la Mode and Redthreaded in the shopping area. I had a lot of my very good costume friends there and they generously shared their picnic with us.
It was so nice to catch up and introduce Mrs. Stitch to these wonderful people I’ve known for over a decade now! I did, however, totally fail at getting pictures with anyone. I was just having such a nice, relaxing time it seemed like a burden to stop to take pictures! Mrs. Stitch, thankfully, took more than I did.
We, of course, wandered all the shops. We particularly enjoyed the wares of LBCC Historical Apothecary and purchased several things. I also bought yet another pair of Dames a la Mode earrings, and a commemorative busk and ornament from Redthreaded. I love being able to patronize my friends!
We also witnessed a duel, a bare knuckle boxing demonstration, and a funeral procession honoring the 200th anniversary of Miss Austen’s death. The best part for me, however, was the sheer number of costumed patrons and the high quality of their costumes and all the great vendors. It really made for a perfect atmosphere.
Bare knuckle boxing demo!
Look at all the lovely costumes!
Toward the end of our day, we did manage to take a few posed costume pictures, at least!
So, in the end, how did I feel about the dress I wasn’t sure was really “me”? Well, I still think it’s not very “me” BUT it was really fun to wear and I felt very pretty in it. I might change out the sleeves for something slightly less girlish in the future, but the dress definitely isn’t a waste! I think wearing a turban instead of a bonnet helped a lot for me, though I need to work on my turban tying for this gown’s next outing at Costume College. It doesn’t look quite right to me in the photos. I also want to do something different the front of my hair. It looked great freshly curled, but it definitely didn’t hold up in the humidity. I might try some pin curls next time. It’s hard with such short hair!
And how did we enjoy the Jane Austen Festival? It was excellent! It’s a beautiful spot, a relaxed and elegant atmosphere, and we’re definitely going back next year for more than just an afternoon. Maybe we’ll even go to the ball!