The Louisville Jane Austen Festival Experience

I’ve been writing about getting ready for the festival but now I’m going to TRY to share what it is like to be there for the weekend.  This is the 10th year for the event. Last year over 2,400 people attended.

First of all, I live in St. Louis, which is only 275 miles away so a pretty easy drive, but I always forget we lose an hour driving there, which means we haven’t been able to experience Friday night to its fullest, yet.  Last year we didn’t make it all.  This year we pulled in around 7:30 pm, just enough time to see we should have got there earlier. We saw two friends from Michigan who had arrived the day before and they showed us lovely bonnets they bought from Shocking Bad Hats. Which I have to say if you want to have bonnet envy click on that link.  They have the most beautiful hats, and when we got there Friday evening they were almost sold out!!  We had seen their booth last year, too, but didn’t realize they bring a lot and the majority sells out before Saturday.

Friday night there are people walking around in period costume, but it really seems to be a shopping night, which I confirmed with some of the vendors.

Saturday morning my daughter’s friend arrived nice and early and and we all got ready for the period.  I had created a new dress, bonnet, parasol, and reticules for both myself and my daughter.  (Her friend wore my day dress from last year, with a few adjustments.)

Here we are basically standing at the entrance to the festival, which is held on the grounds of Locust Grove. The house behind us was built in 1792 (perfect for a Regency period event).  Inside the house, which is decorated to the period, there are interpreters stationed throughout to answer any questions. During the festival they stage mannequins with period clothing and this year a woman was in one of the rooms making lace. (Don’t you love seeing people carrying on the old, traditional arts.)

The schedule is filled from 10 AM to 4:30 PM. Many of the activities have an additional charge, but then again many do not.  Activities that have an additional cost include (but are not limited to) blending your own Regency style tea, historical hair styling and high tea sittings. Those with no additional cost include (but are not limited to) a lecture on the Georgian Royal Navy, a Regency Style Show, a duel between gentlemen, bare knuckle boxing shadow puppets, Punch and Judy and shuttlecock/badminton..

Somehow we missed a couple of lectures we planned on seeing, as well as bare knuckle boxing which we saw last year and I have to say it is something to see, but we did see the style show and have a lovely tea.








Katie and Amy also saw the duel — along with the gentleman being challenged.

We all lined up for the 4 PM promenade. The group was much smaller than last year when they were working to set a world record for a Jane Austen promenade (yep, you can set a world record for anything) but it was still fun strolling through the Shoppes of Meryton.” The picture at the top is from everyone lining up. This is me waiting by one of the tents from the Royal Navy Encampment. 

We also did a lot of shopping.  I took this photo to send my sister-in-law who is looking for fabric for a ball gown for the Jane Austen AGM in September. We found her something long distance.

And, before leaving for the day Katie and Amy tried badminton.



After getting cleaned up from the day’s activities (it is very hot) we prepared for the ball.  I had a new ball gown for me. Katie wore her’s from last year and Amy wore my old one.  (Vicki created a new one this year, too.)

At the ball we had these lovely professional portraits taken.

The girls dance a lot and Vicki and I didn’t dance nearly as much as we should. Probably because I left for a bit to play Whist in one of the card rooms. 

We did make it back to the festival for a bit on Sunday. They have a full schedule, much like Saturday’s, but we needed to drive home and get ready for the real world.

I’d highly recommend going if you have any interest in history or Jane Austen. The event it well planned and has something for everyone

And no, you don’t have to dress up, but for me it is a big part of the fun. But if you aren’t into the dressing part you can still enjoy the history and other fun things, like looking at the others who were crazy enough to dress like that in the heat.  (I don’t know how the men did it in their uniforms and suits.)


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