Back in early 2011 when my husband and I were just beginning to contemplate moving to Kentucky when he retired in 2013, I received an eVite to the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville. As I soon discovered, the Festival is an annual event hosted by the Greater Louisville region of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). Although attending that summer was not possible, I viewed the eVite as “A SIGN”. Half joking and half serious, the fact that Louisville had a vibrant JASNA group was another pro on our list of reasons to choose Kentucky over the other options for our eventual relocation. By the time we moved to the area in September 2013, I had established contact with the Regional Coordinator Bonny Wise and several other members. I was ready to get involved in the fun!
Lucky for me, that fun included assisting in the planning for the 2015 JASNA conference, the Annual General Meeting (AGM), being held in Louisville and hosted by the region. The AGM will be held over four days in October, and registration will open in 2 weeks on June 3. Members have been busy for ages, and now are in hyper overdrive! I’ve done my fair share of planning various festivities in my life, but nothing on this grand of a scale. I honestly cannot fathom how Bonny and this year’s Regional Coordinator Alana Gillet keep themselves together!
Are you a member of JASNA? If you love Jane Austen, I highly recommend joining. Membership is open to anyone, costs $30/year, and has many perks — especially if able to attend meetings and special events at a region near where you live — but even if not so fortunate in that regard. You can join at any time, and it isn’t too late to join for attendance at this year’s AGM. Check out the main JASNA.org website for more information.
If you’re a member of JASNA, the registration brochure should arrive in your mailbox any day. Also be on the lookout for the Spring issue of JASNA News. The article on the AGM was written by me! It was terrific fun to write, and one of the many ways I have been honored to help. If not a member, read the article as I wrote it over on my blog: JASNA News article.
I confess to being rather proud of tapping into my Southern roots and love of Austen when penning our official welcome message–
In 1771 American frontiersman Daniel Boone crossed into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap of the Appalachian Mountains, writing, “I surveyed the famous river Ohio that rolled in silent dignity, marking the western boundary of Kentucky with inconceivable grandeur.” Boone later declared, “I returned home to my family with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise.” Jane Austen never traveled to America, yet the lady who wrote, “To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment,” surely would have concurred with Boone.
JASNA, Greater Louisville Region, is honored to host the 2015 AGM and share our heavenly slice of the world with Jane Austen devotees. Natural beauty is only one of the myriad refreshments available for visitors to experience while in Louisville — “Gateway to the South” — this October. Between outstanding speakers, breakout sessions, and special events focused on Living in Jane Austen’s World, and then the incredible local area tours, award-winning restaurants, and unique blend of Southern charm with cosmopolitan attitude that embodies Louisville, we believe this AGM may be the best ever!
The AGM will be held at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville, a modern, 4-star, state-of-the-art convention hotel on the waterfront of the Ohio River.
Rather than focusing on a particular novel, the theme for 2015 is “Living in Jane Austen’s World.” It is a wonderfully broad topic. I was fortunate to have my submission chosen, and will lead a Breakout Session titled: A Quack, or Dr. House? Medical Practitioners and Practice in Regency England. I am sooooo excited about that!
The outstanding Plenary Speakers scheduled are Dr. Inger Brodey, Amanda Vickery, and Rachel Brownstein. An additional 41 speakers will join me in sharing their knowledge of Regency life in topics running the gamut from culinary, medicine, fashion, George III, the Royal Navy, gardens and plants, farming, India, music, dancing, London Society, Beau Brummel, economics, politics, travel, fallen women, sports, sheep, Dolly Madison, crime, family matters, and much more. Then there are the special interest sessions on fashion, dressing and undressing a Regency lady and gentleman, and watching a Naval surgeon at work (simulated, of course) to name a few. For hands-on fun there are the workshops to sew a reticule, make a breastknot, and create your signature tea blend (minimal extra fees for supplies), and to master country dancing.
Intermixed with the various lectures are the special events. A dinner banquet and Regency Ball, the promenade in Regency attire, a screening of “At Home With the Georgians”, a Regency Era-style church service on Sunday morning, a musical concert, and a two-huge-rooms Emporium. WOW!
Think I am done? Not even close! $235 covers all of the above… but….. there are more options for additional prices. I can guarantee as a member of the planning committee, the extras are stupendous and reasonably priced.
Luncheon and Regency Styleshow ~ Dining in elegance inside the Galt House Ballroom and a lecture by Betsy Bashore, noted authority on early 19th century dress. In “Elegance and Propriety: English Fashion in the Era of Jane Austen” Ms. Bashore discusses the differences in British and French values—modesty and simplicity versus provocative and ornate—enhanced with a fashion show and examination of proper clothing choices for common activities.
The Frazier History Museum Ice Breaker ~ Located two blocks from the hotel, the museum showcases artifacts of American history from early settlement up through 1900. Guests are invited to mingle as they freely tour the exhibits, and while enjoying a delicious dessert and coffee bar. The highlight of the evening is “God and my Country” featuring Bryan Austin, veteran actor and historical interpreter at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, one of the greatest military leaders of recorded history. Performed three times throughout the evening, “God and my Country” is a unique blend of play and lecture, Mr. Austin presenting a new adventure that promises to be as educational as it is entertaining.
How about the array of tours? Local area tours are an AGM staple, perfectly designed to give conference attendees and their companions an easy way to sightsee. I can attest to the careful consideration given to the tours arranged for this AGM. Details to each will be in the brochure, and are also on the website here: Destination Louisville AGM Tours
The Welcome to Louisville city highlights tour.
Clairborne Farms and Keeneland Racetrack.
Historic New Albany in Indiana.
Bourbon Tasting and Locust Grove Historic Park.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
Downtown Louisville walking tour.
“Bats and Boats” to the Louisville Slugger and Howard Steamboat Museums.
Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.
Home and Garden Tour of historic Federal Era homes.
Historic Bardstown and Heaven Hill Distillery Bourbon Heritage Center.
Belle of Louisville Dinner Cruise.
If all of THAT isn’t enough to tempt you to add Louisville to your 2015 plans, how about this:
A bunch of the Austen Authors will be there!!
One of the traditional AGM events is the Author Signing. As the world of Jane Austen fiction, as well as Regency romance genres have proliferated, the Author Signing has evolved from purely non-fiction, academic books to a major event including fiction authors too. I am on the committee of three working to ensure this year’s Author Signing is stupendous. It will be held on the Saturday during the AGM in the Grand Hall at the Galt House. Jane Austen Books will be set up in the Emporium selling hundreds of books pertaining to Jane Austen and her world, particularly all the books authored by those who will be signing. Unfortunately, the signing is only open for registered attendees of the AGM, and only authors who are registered as well. Nevertheless, the list of participating authors is currently at 22 and growing, before registration has officially opened! Authors planning to attend are: Julie Klassen, Joan Ray, Dr. Juliet McMasters, Linda Slothouber, Syrie James, Sarah Ladd, Linda Buetler, Lauren Gilbert, Amanda Vickery, Dr. Inger Brodey, and Rachel Brownstein, to name a few.
I will be signing, of course, and if all goes according to tentative plans, I will be joined by Regina Jeffers, Elizabeth Ann West, Melanie Schertz, Rose Fairbanks, Barbara Silkstone, and Sarah Price. Maybe more! We plan to have some FUN!
Now, as cool as it would be to meet ALL of our Austen Author readers and friends, I know not everyone can hop on a plane for Kentucky in the fall. It’s worth thinking about, though. I can vouch for how gorgeous my new home is in autumn, and I can vouch for how amazing the AGM will be. Think about coming to meet us!
Who will join us?
In other news for Sharon Lathan, Austen Authors, and JASNA Greater Louisville:
A feature article in the May 2015 edition of Kentucky Living magazine!
I wrote about the article on my blog – Kentucky Living Magazine goes Jane Austen – with images, links, and information on the photographs used which were taken at the 2014 Austen Festival by my awesome photographer husband
Steve Lathan, Luv The Light Photos.
I am SO proud of him!
You can also access the magazine online. The article begins on page #34.
Kentucky Living, May 2015