“There is no charm equal to the tenderness of the heart,” voiced Jane Austen. That sentiment is the force propelling her festival in Old Mandeville into a not-to-be-missed event filled with love letters, English culture and family fun.

The second annual festival the weekend of March 7 and 8 boasted a plethora of creative and pleasing activities and performances. The corset holding the fest together was the “Perfect Love Letter” contest. The mission of the non-profit Old Mandeville Jane Austen Festival Inc. is “to foster the fine art of letter writing.”Along with the contest, there was a “Letters from the Attic” display with pieces on lend from private collections. “Letters from the Attic” was shown throughout the rest of March at the Causeway Branch of St. Tammany Parish Library.

At the Mandeville Trailhead Cultural Interpretive Center there were pastry vendors in old English attire, calligraphy demos with wax sealing, era hairstyling, a letter writing workshop for kids, Austen lecture and panel discussion, “Looking for Mr. Darcy” and “No Plain Jane” costume contests, a “Royal Regency Tea” and pub lunch, dance demos and lessons and a screening of Pride and Prejudice. And that was just Saturday!

Sunday at the Lake House, contest winners read to an adoring crowd. A full schedule of events included brunch, Austen readings, harp and flute music, patron party, a “Royal Regency Dessert Reception,” raffle and book sale. Thanks to the board of directors – Kerri Blache, Richard Boyd, Frank Stansbury, Danna Acker, Diane Rosiere, Linda Dupuy, Janet Fabre Smith, Tracy Blair and Bill Reeves – Janes and Darcys will be able to be admired for years to come.