With the tents are broken down, the shops closed, and the regency attire hung up to wait for another festival, it’s a great time to reflect on this past weekend’s Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove. The 7th annual event was the Jane Austen Society of Louisville’s biggest one yet, and even earned a (as of yet unofficial) Guinness world record.
Beginning on Friday night this year - a first of the festival - the numbers were larger than previous years from the very get-go. On Saturday, the concessions sold more food than the entire weekend last year, leading to a severe scone outage and an emergency trip to the store for more food. While this was alarming, it still excited a good portion of the committee, as it meant one thing - a bigger crowd that was participating in more of what the festival had to offer.
The concessions weren’t the only hot spot at the festival - the Janeite Boutique, which sells festival merchandise, started out with four packed tables on Friday and was down to a compact two by Saturday afternoon. Other vendors were doing just as well - Bingley’s Teas, a Jane Austen-themed tea seller, began the weekend with a fully stocked tent which was nearly wiped out by Sunday evening. Kyle Matson, owner Julie Matson’s husband, said that they brought more tea, but were still going through it. “Marianne’s Wild Abandon is one of our most popular here,” he said. “We keep bringing more every year, and we always sell out. We aren’t quite there yet, but we’ve sold most of it.”
The amazing amount of sales might have well contributed to one of the most exciting things about the weekend - the world record setting promenade. While the number still hasn’t been finalized by Guinness, an impressive 491 people beat the record previously held by Bath, England at 409. Quite a large margin to beat, but they’ll have their chance this September.
If local Janeite opinion means anything, Bath can go ahead and try. JASNA Louisville is on a roll, and has more than enough momentum to keep upping the ante each year.
Photo courtesy of Lynn Medley
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