Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, 2017

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.

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 my website! 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, including the full schedule of events, 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! Read the details of “Gods of War” on THIS PAGE.

The Shoppes of Meryton vendors will be open for twilight shopping on Friday, and all day on Saturday and Sunday. 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 and again on Sunday.

Other special events taking place several times over the weekend include the ever popular Regency Style Show by Betsy Bashore, a Regency Fashion Display by Gayle Simmons, a Punch & Judy Show, a Duel Between Gentlemen, a Bare Knuckle Boxing demonstration, Bobbin Lace Making demonstration, “Dressing Mr. Darcy” with Brian Cushing, “My God and My Country” presented by Bryan Austin as Admiral Lord Nelson, a presentation on the Art of Death and Mourning in the Regency, Period Fly and Bait Fishing, the Barbary Pirates, and an encampment of His Majesty’s Royal Navy. These are a mere portion of the overall fun to be had!

On Sunday, July 16 only there will be a Sunday Service led by a Navy Chaplain, and a Regency Style Show for children.

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 the Art & Application of Regency Cosmetics, String Your Own Pearls, Regency Beauty Master Class, Historic Handwriting Basics, The Art of Correspondence, Hairdressing Techniques, and Netting a Reticule. 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. For more information on the Regency Mourning Procession, including links to costume suppliers, visit this link HERE.

Registration and Cost

Online advance registration will begin on June 8th. 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 are 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 vary and are noted on the website.

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! I hope to see some of you there.




Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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