Kerri Blache, along with a group of volunteers who share a fascination with England and Jane Austen novels, put together first annual Old Mandeville Jane Austen Festival, during the weekend of Feb. 16-17, with an overall mission to foster the fine art of letter writing – a recurring motif in the works of Jane Austen.

The festival held two major competitions; one involved judging gentlemen, the Mr. Darcy contest (of Pride and Prejudice fame), and the other was the “perfect love letter writing contest.” The weekend festivities also included staged readings, a “No Plain Janes” costume contest, costumed characters, demonstrations of crafts of the Austen era, carriage rides, music and plenty of cuisine for festival-goers.