Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ninth Annual Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove: Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, can't wait to go back!

Regency ladies gather for a cuppa at Bingley's Tea tent

Last weekend, my daughter, Rachel, and I entreated our carriage to transport us across state lines and a few centuries past, to once again attend the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, Kentucky.

Hosted by the Jane Austen Society of North America's (JASNA) Lousville chapter and held at Locust Grove, the historic site once again became transformed into Meryton, the country village where the Bennet sisters would be at home. Retailers of tea, fashion and curios dotted the well-manicured grounds amid Navy men and ladies attired in long gowns, bonnets and parasols.

Regency military men in attendance at Locust Grove/Meryton
The Jane Austen Festival in Louisville celebrated its ninth year this past weekend. We've attend six of the nine and find each year there's more to experience. And, even thought it's grown in numbers and vendors, it's so well organized, it runs seamlessly - with the help of a  wonderful group of volunteers and Festival Chairman, Bonny Wise.

This year, the Festival honored the author's life and death, with emphasis on the latter, as this month - and today specifically -  marks the 200th anniversary of  Jane Austen's passing.

Dr. Kinney gives the eulogy Jane Austen should have had

Guest speaker, Dr. Cheryl Kinney, a medical doctor and JASNA board member, presented "The Eulogy Jane Austen Should Have Had".  An interesting talk on the theories of what caused Jane's death along with how her image was quickly reshaped by family members to make her more in sync with Victorian virtues. (How glad we are to know from subsequent research, she was as spirited and irreverent as Miss Elizabeth Bennet!)

The highlight of the Festival, however, is attending all our favorites:  Dressing Mr. Darcy, Afternoon Tea, strolling the grounds of Meryton and stopping for tea at Bingley's Tea.

Brian Cushing, once again, delighted us all with his "Dressing Mr. Darcy", better known to all serious Regency Period fashion enthusiasts as "UN-Dressing Mr. Darcy". A Festival crowd-pleaser, Mr. Cushing keeps the event fresh every year by adding new elements and commentary. This year, he came dressed as "casual" Mr. Darcy. wearing longer pants and shoes, rather than the evening attire of breaches and boots. He has our utmost approbation any time of the day.

Watching the UN-dressing of Mr. Darcy

We visited Bingley's Tea's distinctive white tent and met up once again with owner and operator, Julia Matson. As pretty and inviting as her artful tea packages, we stocked up on a few "books" of tea. Among our favorites:  "Mr. Knightly's Reserve", a superb Earl Grey blend and "Compassion for Mrs. Bennet's Nerves", an herbal tea that is sure to help ail any malady, real or imagined!

With Julia Matson, owner of Bingley's Teas

New this year at Bingley's Tea were a line of syrups made from their tea. We purchased a few of those, too! I purchased the "French Lavender" and Rachel selected the "Naughty Nun". I am so looking forward to adding these to a fresh batch of lemonade or a chilled glass of Prosecco.

Bingley's Teas were also served at Afternoon Tea and we enjoyed our elegant repast in the Visitor's Center tea room.

Afternoon Tea at the Visitor's Center tea room

Another exceedingly good time at the Jane Austen Festival. We really did buy the T-shirt and we certainly plan to be back next year for more Festival felicity!

Got the tea and the T-shirt. We'll be back for more!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, you certainly are "in the know" about great Tea events. How fun to attend with your daughter! Barbara Tabb