ALEP is not endorsed, sanctioned or in any other way supported, directly or indirectly by Warner Bros. Entertainment, the Lord of the Rings book publishers or the J.R.R. Tolkien estate orits representatives
AL3P is not endorsed, sanctioned, or in any other way supported, directly or indirectly by Warner Bros. Entertainment, the Lord of the Rings book publishers, or the J.R.R. Tolkien estate or its representatives.Habitasse © Curabitur felis erat. Mauris di Serif. Vestibulum | Sed vulputate
What is ALEP? Well, let me have an attendee from the first event explain...
“’What exactly is this “ALEP” thing you talk about?’, friends often ask. I tend to smile in a mildly sympathetic way when I answer, because I know that I will never really be able to fully explain the wildly exciting, yet oddly gentle thrill that this event engenders. But, still I do try to find the words.
A Long Expected Party (ALEP) is the brain-child of Daniel Gauthier, Tim White and J.P. Cummins. It is a thoroughly unconventional convention that grew out of their frustrations and impatience with the more “big box” events.
When I received my original invitation to the event that was to be held in 2008, (oh yes, you are reading correctly; it IS a party after all and we lucky few were invited guests) when I received my invitation, I will admit that I was very skeptical. I mean, this was a brand new event being held in-back-of-beyond Kentucky, by a seemingly inexperienced crew. But, there was something oddly endearing about the photos on their website, something that spoke to my nerdish heart. So after consultation with a small group of very close friends, it was decided that we would throw caution to the wind and go for it. We figured that worst that could happen is that we would get to spend a few days together in what seemed like a quite beautiful place.
I can happily say now that attending was among the very best decisions that I ever made and I know the rest of my group felt likewise.
A Long Expected Party proved to be a delightfully intimate gathering of like-minded Tolkien enthusiasts who took the risk, let down their guard and stepped into the world of Middle Earth. It is held in the fully restored Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, near Harrodsburg, KY and trust me when I tell you that the Village itself is a huge part of the magic of this event.
Pleasant Hill, has truly become, for all the attendees, The Shire. With some 3,000 acres of green rolling hills, woods and meadows, as well as miles of incredible dry-stone walls, one loses track of the fact you are in Kentucky and you become transported to Middle Earth. As you stroll the broad gravel road that runs east and west you are treated to gardens, farm fields and encounters with livestock. Shaker Village has been cleverly transformed to include more than 70 guest rooms, suites and private cottages spread throughout its 13 restored 19th century buildings. . The amazing accommodations feature Shaker reproduction furniture, hardwood flooring as well as memory foam mattresses, private baths and air conditioning; so basically the best of both worlds, past and present. Being able to live in this pastoral environment is a huge part of the ALEP experience.
Whilst living in this amazing place, you mix and mingle with a wonderful group of Tolkien enthusiasts, most of them wearing costumes that they feel exemplify their inner Hobbit, Elf, Dwarf, Ranger, etc. Dressing in costume is by no means mandatory, but greatly adds to the whimsy and to the sense of being fully immersed in the experience. As part of the fun there are costume parades as part of the evenings’ entertainment. Please note I said parades and not contests, because it really is about joy and not about competition.
As for the evenings’ entertainment; well, try to envision a huge old tobacco barn that is transformed each night through the use of various props and imagination into a different place in Middle Earth. One night you are in Lord Elrond’s Hall in Rivendell and on another evening you find yourself feasting in Rohan. While throughout it all you are treated to songs, recitations, skits and laughter..., lots of laughter. Finally add the soft sigh of evening breeze whispering through the barn boards and the honey-gold light of breathtaking Kentucky sunsets and you will begin to truly understand the magic of this event.
Of course for the more practical minded there is also the joys of feasting in a way that would make Hobbits happy, because a “full ride” package includes all of your meals. Starting with a hearty country buffet breakfast which includes, but is not limited to eggs, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and grits as well as juices and coffee or tea. Then later in the day you head to the “Dancing Pony” to get your grab and go sack lunch, which provides a delicious sandwich or wrap, fruit and a sweet as well as a beverage. Just the thing for a picnic on any convenient piece of lawn or ideal for toting along on a hike, a riverboat ride or off to one of many offered panels and classes. Then finally the day concludes with an amazing feast each night in the event barn before the entertainment. Huge bowls of salad, wonderful vegetables, and potatoes are featured along with succulent roasted meats and crusty bread or rolls. Then if you still have a bit of room..., a few cracks to fill in..., there is always dessert; apple cake or Shaker lemon pie or some other amazing sweet treat. Oh and never fear there are always options for the vegetarian lover of Middle Earth too.
Spread throughout the day there are panels with artists and scholars which address the world of Tolkien..., his writing, his life, his vision. As well as classes to learn more about topics as diverse as costuming, art, music, prosthetic makeup and calligraphy. Then there are hikes through the rolling countryside and shady forests that are a part of the Village. Whether lead by Rangers or Hobbits it is a chance to go on an adventure in a very real sense, while continuing to build bonds of fellowship with fellow attendees. We have also been treated to weapons demonstrations, riverboat cruises and archery tournaments. The wealth and diversity of experiences is wonderful.
Finally on the Saturday night of each event there has been a party of special magnificence is our own version of the party field. Beneath open sky and magnificent old trees there appears a stage, tents, tables and chairs and even dear old Bag End itself! Lights, banners and pennants are strung; food and drink flow freely and happiness abounds. There is music and song as well as dancing in the grass in true Hobbity fashion. It is a night to remember forever.
But in the final analysis all of these things taken together still do not really convey what ALEP truly IS, for it is really the spirit that pervades; the deep and abiding fellowship that somehow grew from the earliest hours of the very first event that truly defines what A Long Expected Party means. There is among all of the attendees a common love of a world that only ever existed on the pages of a book, in our imaginations and on a movie screen, until an unlikely alliance of remarkable people brought it into existence (albeit transiently) and breathed life into it. Now a group of strangers from far flung corners of the world know that the world of Middle Earth is a very real place where they may sometimes gather with the family of their hearts for A Long Expected Party.”
Stay in rooms with a view at The Inn at Shaker Village. Nestled in the rolling hills of Kentucky’s famed Bluegrass Region, the Inn is the perfect getaway, complete with views of the gently rolling countryside.
The Inn encompasses more than 70 guest rooms, suites and private cottages spread throughout 13 restored 19th century buildings. Inn accommodations feature Shaker reproduction furniture, hardwood flooring, memory foam mattresses and private baths.
During your stay, dine by candlelight on hearty Kentucky foods and Shaker specialties at the renowned Trustees’ Office Dining Room, where true southern hospitality abounds. Explore Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, where you can tour America’s largest restored Shaker community, browse two craft stores, take a seasonal riverboat ride, and explore 40 miles of trails.
The Inn at Shaker Village is located less than thirty miles from Lexington, Kentucky and within short driving distances from many of Kentucky’s hallmark attractions, including storied distilleries and vineyards, legendary horse farms and notable historic sites.
Click here for more information about
here for Driving Directions.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is located in the heart of the Bluegrass Region near Harrodsburg, KY, less than 30 miles from Lexington.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
3501 Lexington Road
Harrodsburg, Kentucky 40330
Click here for MapQuest driving directions. (A slight address change is reflected on the map to get you to the village)
Click here for a Map of Shaker Village.
37 degrees 48.977N
084 degrees 44.419W
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