Members of the Port Alberni chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America are hoping that the third time will be the charm for a Guinness World Record.
Port Alberni will be hosting its third annual Jane Austen Festival from Thursday, July 5 through Sunday, July 8, and organizers hope to gather a record-breaking number of people in Regency costume at the Alberni District Secondary School Theatre on Saturday, July 7.
Organizer Tricia Knight said she had no plans to hold the count this year, until she learned that Chamber Opera Tours from Chicago planned to bring Jane Austen’s Persuasion: A Musical Drama to Port Alberni for the festival (July 5 and 6).
“When she called me, I asked, ‘You do know where Port Alberni is, right?’” Knight joked.
Last year’s festival drew 286 people to the Glenwood Centre from all across Canada, although additional bodies showed up too late to be counted. The musical will bring an additional 80 people in Regency garb to the count—which will put Port Alberni very close to the world record of 409.
The change of venue will also make counting easier, said Knight, as there will be no pre-registration required.
“It has in the past been a great deal of work,” said Knight. “This way it’s just a matter of people walking in and being counted.”
The count will take place at exactly 10 a.m. (latecomers will not be counted) at ADSS, and will be followed by a promenade around the Harbour Quay and Centennial Pier at noon.
At 2 p.m., a High Tea will be held at the Echo Centre, featuring sandwiches and desserts. And at 8 p.m. the Echo Centre will be transformed into a candlelit ball, with a full finger food buffet, a wine cash bar and a Card Room with card games and board games. Regency attire is not required, but is appreciated.
Tickets for the tea are $15 for adults and $10 for children 10 and under. The ball is $30 per person. Non-refundable tickets are available at the Echo Centre and at Boutique Belles Amies, but sales will be cut off on June 30.
Don’t have your costume yet? The rules for Regency wear are very strict, but you can find the guidelines for men, women and children online at www.centennialbelles.ca, or attend one of the costume workshops at the Port Alberni Youth Centre on Monday, June 18 (12-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.) or Saturday June 22 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) for help.
“You don’t want to be number 410,” warned Knight.