Karen Baker’s “Slice of St. Tammany” column, March 7, 2013

By Karen Baker

Special to The Advocate

Do you hold some truths to be self-evident?

Or, as Jane Austen would say, are there some truths you believe are “universally acknowledged”? If so, you will have a chance to put those truths down on paper for all the world (well, all of Mandeville) to see this weekend.

The Jane Austen Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday in old Mandeville, and it will include a large writing tablet mounted on an easel so that visitors can write down something they believe is “a truth universally acknowledged.”

The line comes from the opening of Austen’s classic “Pride and Prejudice,” which states: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

You may have something to add to that, so here’s your chance. In addition to the writing tablet, scores of responses will be posted on the festival’s website, www.janeaustenfestival.org, according to organizers.

“We think those attending the festival this year will get into the spirit of this and provide us with some fascinating observations,” said Denelle Cowart, a festival board member and professor at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, who came up with the idea. On Saturday, a “universally acknowledged” tablet will be set up at the Mandeville Trailhead, North Star Theater and Spitzfaden Community Senior Center. On Sunday, it will be at The Lakehouse restaurant on the lakefront, where various festival events will take place.

The Jane Austen Festival is extra special this year as it marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of “Pride and Prejudice.” Activities begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Mandeville Trailhead and will include a lecture, a performance by students from Mandeville and Lancaster elementary schools, a Mr. Darcy Dramatic Reading Contest, a No Plain Jane Costume Contest and dances.

The library will offer children’s activities, and a local hair salon will be on hand to give women free Jane Austen-era hairstyles.

Afternoon activities Saturday will take place at the North Star Theatre, including a panel discussion from 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on “Pride and Prejudice” with Cowart and festival board member Daniel Mangiavellano of Tulane University.

Arynne Fannin of Tulane University will follow from 3:40 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. with a lecture and singing of salon music of the Regency Era. She will be followed by a lecture on English Tudor Times by William Robison, a professor from Southeastern.

All events at the Trailhead and North Star are free.

The Saturday schedule will conclude with a Dancing With Jane event at the Spitzfaden Community Center on East Causeway Approach across from Mandeville City Hall. Admission is $5 for adults and children older than 12.

The festival concludes from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at The Lakehouse, 2025 Lakeshore Drive. Admission is $35 or $25 for students and teachers with picture ID; the day includes a brunch, cake and champagne reception and several events including a harp concert by the New Orleans Celtic Harp Ensemble, poetry readings and readings from the winners of the Perfect Love Letter Writing Contest.

For more information, and to find truths universally acknowledged, visit http://www.janeaustenfestival.org.

More in Mandeville

Also this weekend in Mandeville, the Dew Drop Social and Benevolent Jazz Hall will kick off its spring season on Saturday with Glen David Andrews on trombone.

Andrews, who has appeared on the HBO “Treme” series, will perform from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the historic jazz hall on Lamarque Street in old Mandeville.

Admission is $10 at the door. The spring season will continue with the New Orleans Guitar Quartet and Helen Gillet on March 23 and “Jumpin” Johnny Sansone on April 6.

The ladies auxiliary of the First Free Mission Baptist Church next door to the Dew Drop offers home-cooked meals at all Dew Drop concerts, and the Friends of the Dew Drop have a table selling CDs of the performers. For more information, visit http://www.dewdropjazzhall.com.

Bicentennial art exhibit

The St. Tammany Art Association will hold an opening reception on Saturday for “A Place for Art; the Art of Place — Covington 200” to celebrate Covington’s bicentennial.

Eleven artists have been selected to participate based on the quality of work and their interpretation of Covington. Each weekend during the exhibition will feature an event showcasing Covington’s history and culture.

Opening night will be dedicated to artists with special bicentennial flavor. The exhibit runs through April 6. The St. Tammany Art Association is located at 320 N. Columbia St. in Covington. For more information, call (985) 892-8650.

Looking for good books

The Leadership Northshore Class of 2013 is looking for a few good books, to benefit a worthy cause.

The Hospice Foundation of the South is breaking ground in Slidell to build a Hospice House for indigent patients as well as families who need help with loved ones in need.

The house will be a home for patients diagnosed with a terminal illness, with less than a year to live. This special place will provide comfort, at no cost to the patient.

To bring some peace and joy to the hospice patients, Leadership Northshore members are collecting good hardcover books to give to the residents.

They ask that you consider donating hardcover books, in good condition, that made a difference in your life or simply gave you great joy. If you do not have a particular book in mind, you can also donate $50.

For information on making donations, contact the Airey Blanchard Law Office at (985) 641-4010 or send an email to booksforhospice@gmail.com.

A tail to tell

Gina Patrick, owner of Tall Tails Pet Sitting in Slidell, was recently nominated by Pet Sitters International as one of the top five pet sitters in the nation. Nominees are evaluated on criteria including client recommendations, variety of pets cared for, variety of clients served and services offered, as well as the quantity and quality of nominations. This year, more than 360 nominations were submitted, and Patrick was honored to be one of the finalists.

Karen Baker writes about St. Tammany Parish. She can be reached at sliceoftammany@gmail.com.