Jane Austen’s Legacy ~ A Festival in Louisville

Jane Austen’s Legacy ~ A Festival in Louisville

Three years ago I moved to Kentucky from California, and naturally there were many reasons why we chose this area. A big one was the JASNA Region in Louisville, albeit more for me than my husband! Located about forty miles from where we live, it is an easy, beautiful countryside pictorial drive for the meetings once a month where Austen fanatics from far and wide gather to learn more about Jane, and fellowship over tea and treats. Timing of our move was also fortuitous due to the Region hosting the 2015 JASNA Annual General Meeting. The entire weekend event was marvelous, as several Austen Authors can attest. I was joined by Regina Jeffers, Melanie Schertz, Sarah Price, and Rose Fairbanks. While there I met Collins Hemingway, who is now one of our wonderful authors!

To see how the Greater Louisville JASNA region plans an Austen-related event, pop over to my Facebook page for an extensive album of photos:  JASNA AGM 2015 Photo Album

Where the Greater Louisville JASNA Region has truly gained their superb reputation, however, is by the annual Jane Austen Festival held each year (with the exception of 2015) for eight years now. This coming July will be the 9th year for this amazing event. I attended in 2014, but last year was on my 30th wedding anniversary cruise so I missed out on the Regency fun. Marital celebrating in the Bahamas was a worthy choice, all things considered, yet the missed year makes this festival especially anticipatory for me. Below are two images from the 2014 Festival.

Sharon with Festival Coordinator Bonny Wise at 2014 Festival


Sharon outside Locust Grove mansion, at 2014 Festival


Truly, as is noted below, this IS the LARGEST Austen event in North America, and SO worth attending if you love Jane Austen — and I know you do if you are visiting this website! LOL! It is such a fabulous event that I am devoting a whole blog. My hope is that many of you will be inspired to come. Kentucky is a nicely central location, after all, and gorgeous to visit in the summer time. Plus, I’ll be there!



9th Annual Jane Austen Festival


July 14, 15 & 16, 2017

Join us as we celebrate “Jane Austen’s Legacy, 1775-1817”

This year, the theme is “Jane Austen’s Legacy, 1775-1817” to commemorate 200 years since her death. Complete details are on the 2017 Jane Austen Festival website, but allow me to share a few of the highlights. 

The excitement begins on Friday, July 14 – Bastille Day – between the hours of 6 to 9 p.m. when two special people will be in attendance: Emperor Napoleon and Admiral Lord Nelson! What a combustible encounter that portends to be! Vendor shoppes will be open for Twilight Shopping. The full vendor list can be seen HERE, but includes quality businesses selling fabrics, sewing accessories, hats and bonnets, tea, jewelry, fashion accoutrements, wigs and hairpieces, Regency garments for men and women, silhouettes, shoes, and so much more.

Dr. Cheryl Kinney

On Saturday & Sunday, July 15 & 16, the hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. This year’s featured speaker is Dr. Cheryl Kinney, who will be presenting: “The Eulogy Jane Austen Should Have Had” on Saturday. Other special events over the weekend include the ever popular Regency Style Show by Betsy Bashore, the Regency Fashion Display by Gayle Simmons, a Punch & Judy Show, a Duel Between Gentlemen, a Bare Knuckle Boxing demonstration, Bobbin Lace Making demonstration, and an encampment of His Majesty’s Royal Navy.

All of the events (aside from the Ball) are located at beautiful Locust Grove, a 55-acre 18th-century farm site and National Historic Landmark situated in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky. The famed mansion, dated from the 1790s Federal (Georgian) period, open for touring. Another excellent inclusion into weekend’s festival fun!

The vendor shoppes will be open for business each day. Of course there will be food available for purchase, from the Earl of Sandwich Shoppe. A “don’t miss” special meal is the Four-Course Afternoon Tea (several sitting times offered), and for the wee-ones a special Children’s Tea on Sunday afternoon. 2017 Workshops include making Tussie Mussies, String your own strand of Pearls, Regency Letter Writing, and Netting. A major highlight is the Grand Regency Ball, held on Saturday, July 15, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Spalding University.

All of the events (aside from the Ball) are located at beautiful Locust Grove, a 55-acre 18th-century farm site and National Historic Landmark situated in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky. The famed mansion, dated from the 1790s Federal (Georgian) period, open for touring. Another excellent inclusion into weekend’s festival fun!


Regency Promenade

One of the main events at each year’s Festival is the Regency Promenade, a chance for those who come dressed in costume to stroll about the Locust Grove garden paths, just as the Regency Era society ladies and gentlemen walked Rotten Row in Hyde Park. An opportunity to see, and be seen! In 2014 the festival set a Guinness record for number of participants in period appropriate attire. Alas, the record was broken that same year at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, UK. In honor of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the 2017 Festival in Louisville will be holding a Regency Mourning Procession as our annual promenade. Rather than a simple garden stroll, the promenade will re-enact a typical mourning processional, complete with casket, drape, and pallbearers. Adding to the uniqueness of this never-before-done activity, the region will be attempting to set a NEW Guinness World Record! Your help is needed! A $1 entrance fee is requested, but that is optional. All monies collected will be matched by the JASNA-Greater Louisville Region and donated to the North American Friends of the Chawton House Library.


Registration and Cost

Online advance registration will begin on or about June 5th. Festival Admission is $6 per person for Friday Night Twilight Shopping, and $12 per person for one-day admission on Saturday or Sunday. Children under 12 admitted free with an adult. A two-day admission pass for $20 per person will be available ONLINE ONLY. There is no limit to festival admission, so tickets can be purchased at the gate each day. However, advance registration is highly recommended for the Afternoon Tea, Workshops and the Grand Ball as they sell-out before the festival opens. The Four-Course Afternoon Tea is $25 (plus Festival admission) per person and Children’s Tea is $20 per child (plus Festival admission if over 12 years of age). The Grand Ball is $25 per person. Workshop prices will be available April 2017.

For constantly updated Festival information, including hotel information and local area links, here is the direct link to the section on the Greater Louisville JASNA website: 2017 Jane Austen Festival. There is also a Facebook Page, naturally, with all sorts of additional information: Jane Austen Festival, Louisville.

Please share the information! Any of the official Festival images on this blog post can be copied and used to alert others about this marvelous event. Thanks! Now, for this blog post, tell us about any Austen or Regency events you have attended.


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13 Responses to Jane Austen’s Legacy ~ A Festival in Louisville

  1. Every year I would like to go, since my mom was from Kentucky and I’ve never been to see where she grew up. We’re a little less than 5 hours away and if I can twist Greg’s arm, maybe we’ll drop by. Although you will NEVER see Greg in Regency dress, I might see what I can scrounge up. I think it would be fun to hook up with a few online JAFF folks and attend. Thanks, Sharon. Jen Red

  2. Thanks for detailing this out for us! I’ve always wanted to go, maybe someday soon I will!

  3. What a wonderful looking event, Sharon. It will take place again next year then, I presume and hope? Maybe it can be my summer event next year. Does everyone come in costume? I don’t have one (yet). Is it always in July? I hope you have a wonderful time and there’s a great turn out.

    • That is the plan, Summer! It has become an annual happening, the 2015 hiatus only due to the AGM. It would be fabulous to meet you!

      Costumes are optional. But, you do see a TON of people in period garments. Far more than I’ve ever seen at any other Austen event, aside from the AGMs. Wearing Regency garb adds to the fun, of course, but there are always those who do not dress, or make do with something Regency-ish.

      So far I think the Festival has always been in July. I can’t say for 100% sure dating back before 2013, which is the first Festival I knew of. Here in Kentucky that is a great month. Derby is over (that is in May) and the weather is terrific. Plus, the Region has a very close relationship with the historic society that runs Locust Grove. The mansion is dated to the same period, so the various events JASNA holds, including all of our meetings, are held at Locust Grove. Scheduling-wise, it works perfectly with other events the historic society has planned.

      Hope to see you in 2018!

  4. Have a wonderful time Sharon! I hope you get to meet many of your author friends there as well as plenty of JAFF readers. Unfortunately I won’t be one of them as it is too far from my home near Lyme Park, especially as I am such a poor traveller. I certainly can’t fly!
    Thank you for the lovely photos and I look forward to more from this year.

  5. Oh Sharon! You’ve made me homesick! I have attended the festival at Locust Grove several times, as my in-laws live just across the river in Clarksville, but we moved just in time to miss the AGM, and I have no idea when we will make it back. Bath last year was some compensation, however. I’ll be thinking of you this July, and all the fun times you are having.

    • Oh no! What a shame that we missed each other in the past! I had originally planned to attend in 2013, but that ended up being the year we moved from CA, so I just could not work the Festival in to our jammed schedule. Prior to that, Kentucky was not on our radar so I didn’t know of the Festival. Learning about it, and getting to know Bonny Wise and a few other local members of the Region via the internet was a “sign” that moving here was meant to be. Seriously!

      Maybe someday you will get back to the States. I shall keep my fingers crossed!

  6. You’re making me feel quite envious, Sharon. But Kentucky is an awfully looooong way from Yorkshire! Hope you all have a fantastic time and post loads of photos so that the rest of us can live vicariously through you. I’m hoping to get to Chawton in June for the events there but not certain if I’ll be able to make the teip to Hampshire as yet.

    • Heck, just hop on a plane, Anji. No biggie! LOL!

      You are fulfilling the dream of so many of us who live on this side of the pond. Being able to visit Chawton, the Bath Festival, and all the rest is what I long for. If only it WAS that easy (ie- cheap) to hop on a plane! 🙂

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