Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fifth Annual Jane Austen Festival: boxing, bonnets, blushing and Bingley tea!

Fifth Annual Jane Austen Festival at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville
Where can one experience a boxing match, a 19th Century “Magic Mike” show and a refined afternoon tea with a just-purchased bonnet? Although it sounds like a mash-up of the Las Vegas strip and Colonial Williamsburg, we found all of this last weekend –much to our merriment –at the Fifth Annual Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky.

My daughter, Rachel, and I started attending this event in 2009 and then back again in 2010. Last year, we couldn’t make it as Rachel was in London on a study-abroad. I joined her for a week, but, unfortunately, the time conflicted with the JA Festival for 2011. (However, while in England, we did make a trip to Winchester and Chawton, both homes to Jane Austen, so we were, at least, faithful to our July date with our favorite author! - See Jane Austen House in Chawton blog entry for more).

Selecting ribbon for a new bonnet purchased at Marquette Trading Company
This year, we were amazed at how big the festival has grown and the increase in Austen-attire as well as the number of gentlemen in attendance. Feeling somewhat in the minority, I rushed to purchase a straw bonnet from the Marquette Trading company, a fashion retailer on-site at Locust Grove.

Bare-knuckle boxing demonstration
We took in a bare-knuckle boxing match with two fine lads who explained the contrast of the sport from the 1800’s to today. Back in the day, fights were longer, rougher, and, not surprisingly, careers were shorter.

Undressing Mr. Darcy with Brian Cushing

And, much to our happiness, the boxing match was not the end of our macho men show for the day. The long-anticipated “Dressing Mr. Darcy” was next although it could be more appropriately titled “Undressing Mr. Darcy”.  Reenactor Brian Cushing pealed off layers of clothing while describing each article. Starting with the top hat and moving quickly to the jacket, waistcoat and ascot, we experienced 50 shades of Earl Grey as Mr. Darcy slid one suspender and then the other over his broad shoulders. Oh, my where did we leave our smelling salts?
Experiencing 50 shades of Earl Grey as Dressing Mr. Darcy heats up
Then, as we circled the shopping district of Meryton once again, Rachel cast her eye on a novel telescope necklace. Truly, a charming little piece that would have served us much better had we bought it before the Mr. Darcy fashion show.

Rachel's telescope necklace was, unfortunately purchased after  Dressing Mr. Darcy
For balanced reporting, I must assert, the JA festival had more than handsome gentlemen to offer (not that there’s anything wrong with that)! We enjoyed afternoon tea in the “tea room” and we were seated with a wonderful group of ladies from the Louisville area. A shout out to Connie and Barbara who shared their travel stories over herbal infusions and chocolate cake.

Afternoon tea featuring Bingley's Teas
Back in the village, there were also many old-time craft demonstrations including the making of Turkish paper and hand-crafted lace. We learned with the latter, a shawl of lace in Jane’s time could have equaled the cost of two horses.

Finally, we had the great pleasure of being introduced to Bingley teas, the creation of Julia Matson whose booth was literally manned by husband and sons. There is a great variety of tea offered from herbals to black and all developed and named for Jane Austen characters. Our current favorite is the Earl Grey. For more on Bingley teas see The Detroit Tea Examiner article, Bingley's Teas:  novel tea at Jane Austen Festival.

Once again, we departed the historic Locust Grove with a bag full of goodies, a little more Jane Austen knowledge, a few new friends and memories long enough to keep us going until next July. Cheers to JASNA Louisville Regional Coordinator, Bonny Wise, who is the ultimate host and we look forward to seeing more good company in 2013!


Micupoftea~ said...

What a sounds fascinating. LOVE the clothing demo by "Mr Darcy" and the cool necklace your daughter wore. :)

The Tea Temptress said...

Ooh, a telescope necklace. How handy that would be for next year. The first year we attended, I saw the undressing of Mr. Darcy. All the women in tent were twitterpated and blushing with fans flapping!
Thank you for visiting our tea tent as well! We hope to see you for a visit. It's so fun to chat with a fellow tea friend.

Bonny Wise said...

Thanks so much Barb! I am so happy you and your daughter could come back to the festival this year. It's a labor of love that our committee gives to the Janeites of the world!

I loved your comment about shades of Earl Grey!

Denver Tea Lady said...

Oooh, that Jane Austen Festival sounds to much fun! I just may have to go next year. I have some Cincinnati cousins that might be willing to join me. I'd better start on my costume now!

Arlene said...

Barb, I'd love to go to this someday! How nice for you and your daughter to go together to this.

Two Cottages And Tea said...

Hi Barb,
Thank you so much for leaving your lovely comment and I'm so happy to have found your blog. I will be back when I have more time to view your past posts. The Jane Austin Festival sounds like so much fun and I enjoyed your post about it. Also, I have been to the Four Seasons tea room in Houghton quite a few times. Its about two hours away from me and is the only one in the UP. Have a great weekend!