Your Weekend Wow – The Victorian Heritage Festival and Fashion Show Report

Who says historical costumers are dull?! (Agnes Gawes, Valarie LaBore and Mara Perry)

Think historic costumers are dull? Not! (Agnes Gawne, Valarie LaBore & Mara Perry ham it up at the Commender’s Beach House.)

I finally got around to downloading my photos from the Victorian Heritage Festival! Ever since I upgraded to Windows 10, the only way I can manage and attach images from my camera is to download them in one big chunk, then copy them individually to my desktop and go from there. It’s a pain and takes forever but it’s done. Better a bit late than never (I hope).

The Heritage Festival

The weather was cool and a bit breezy, but no rain. Unfortunately, this year seemed a bit lackluster. Not nearly as many people promenading downtown in period dress. And many of those in costume went Steampunk or in Edwardian dress which, on the one hand, bugs me a bit (since it’s not true Victorian) but, on the other hand, it’s a weekend for fun and if Victorian Steampunk or Edwardian floats their boat then OK. A lot of locals didn’t even know about the festival. I think perhaps better advertising is called for.

A number of demonstrations were ongoing, but they were held in a dark room that prevented photos without harsh flash lighting. I did get to play with an antique treadle sewing machine, which only made we want one more (and taught me I definitely want one that is capable of operating in reverse – the earliest ones didn’t and, as a result, jam quite easily as I proved…repeatedly).

One nifty feature was a gentleman who took photographs using genuine antique equipment and processed them as was done at the time. Unfortunately, the unreliability of the process meant many re-takes and the line was long. But it was fascinating to watch.


Valarie LaBore – Watches and How Women Wore Them

Val LaBore, who many of you may know from Costume College, gave an excellent presentation on watches. It’s a detail often overlooked, but once you start paying specific attention to old photos and paintings it’s amazing to see how many women are wearing watches. And how they wore them changed with time. Val’s presentation spanned from the 1500’s to the 1920’s and included not only a great range of photos and paintings, but extant examples. You might think this a bit of an exotic topic, but the room was packed with both women and men.

For more info on how watches were worn, visit Val’s “Watches and Watch Chains” Pinterest board: (with info and images of both men and women).

High Tea at the Commander’s Beach House

I didn’t get my bustle dress finished and wasn’t seated at the “costumed” table, but the ladies I did have tea with were delightful and I got so carried away that I missed taking photos of the table with everyone in period dress. Rats! But I did get some nice photos with Agnes Gawne, Valarie LaBore and Mara Perry – all in period dress they personally made.


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The Victorian Fashion Show

I feel the need to apologize ahead for the quality of these photos. The fashion show is held in the local First Presbyterian church, which was built in the late 1890’s so although the interior is great, the lighting isn’t geared towards photography. The stained glass windows cast a golden glow on everything, so colors are often skewed a bit, and it’s just dark enough that sometimes the camera speed stops down and I end up with blurs. Even professional photographers run into these problems, so at least I’m not alone. I will say the pipe organ is pretty darned impressive.

Most of the participants either made their garments or wore extant garments, be they purchased or handed down through family. There was some truly magnificent work and I’m disappointed that most of it doesn’t show half as nice as it looked. I also regret not being able to get a photo of everyone who participated. But here’s an example of the costuming talent on display. It is wonderful to see to many men participating – more every year.

Included in the fashion show were examples of traditional Norwegian dress (the Bunad), as large areas nearby were settled by Norwegian immigrants.

The finale!



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