Gilmore Girls FanFest Takes Over Town Formerly Known as Stars Hollow

According to Gilmore Girl legend, the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino got the idea from an overnight stay in Washington Depot, Connecticut, and was inspired by the friendliness of the town, the scenery, and watching a customer at the local diner pour their own coffee because the staff was busy.  Supposedly, within 24 hours, she had the show’s pilot worked out.

Now, that same town, Washington Depot (known to GG fans as Stars Hollow) put out the red carpet for the first ever Gilmore Girl Fan Fest this weekend, which drew an estimated 1,200 devotees of the series that ran for seven years on the CW Network. Though filmed mostly in California, many of the local Connecticut sights made their appearance, like the Mayflower Grace Inn, up the road; and the famous town gazebo (which is in nearby New Milford).  Fran Reilly, the town’s book store owner, nicknamed Rory Reads for the occasion, is used to fans coming in since the series took on its cult status, and that even though this isn’t the EXACT book store used in the show, it’s still very representative of Rory’s love of reading.

This first-ever fan fest went on without a hitch which is a tribute to its organizer, Jennie Whitaker, of Seeding Communications, who was the main contact, and host.  Neither the rain nor the wind of Friday and Saturday dampened the spirts of the event, said a front gate greeter, Mariah, “Everyone just had their umbrellas…they didn’t mind it.”

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Sean Gunn (“Kirk”) 

Events throughout the weekend included nods to several of the favorite episodes, like the Knit-A-Thon, or regular goings on like tea at the inn, recipes from Sookie, items from the Gilmore’s Friday Night dinners, or items on Luke’s menu. On Sunday, the final day of the event, the sun finally showed, bringing the town to brilliant color, and a final meet and greet with cast members, John Cabrera (Brian) and Sean Gunn (Kirk).  It was fitting the Whitaker obtained the video that aired at the memorial service for the beloved actor Edward Herrmann, who played Richard Gilmore, and who passed in December 2014. Whitaker recorded the audience’s respectful applause to send to the family.

It was obvious with all the coffees purchased, the brisk selling of tee-shirts, and the many overnight guests, the event was an economical boost to the town and local area. The president of the Washington Business Association expressed excitement at the town playing a role in the fest, and the Town Selectman, Mark Lyon, took the stage, complemented the organizers and remarked that if everyone is as nice as the 1200 people who filled the two tents, he hoped this is held for years to come.

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The “sold-out” crowd prepares for the GG finale

The finale was the show’s actual finale called, “Bon Voyage,” which was shown on the huge screen, and literally turned the event into more of a community love-fest, as attendees laughed, applauded and cried at some of the more tender scenes. Mariah tried to explain the importance of the show for her. “I was the same age as Rory, and experienced everything she did, and now I’m the same age a Lorelai, with a five year old….it’s a very special show,”  she said. The crowd was predominately women, mothers and daughters, who bonded over a very well-written show, which took place in a town that everyone wished they lived in, and for these three days, they got the chance.

One last note, just as Sherman-Palladino was inspired to do the show during a drive through the area, so did festival founder Jennie Whitaker, and her husband Marcus. “We were sitting in traffic outside of Hartford earlier this summer,” said Marcus, “looked at the distance between Washington Depot and the location of the car…the next thing I knew we were reaching out to the Town Selectman.  This town is something to treasure.”

For more information on future Gilmore Girl FanFest, visit the website. gilmoregirlsfanfest.com

Netflix is airing four new episodes of the show next month. 

Photos by MJ Hanley-Goff
Top photo: The Washington Supply Shop welcomes GG fans

About MJ Hanley-Goff (69 Articles)
MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to WomanAroundTown since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday and for ten years wrote for the Sunday Real Estate section. A move to the Hudson Valley brought her to the Times Herald-Record where she continued to write for a Sunday Real Estate section, and also joined the writing team at the monthly Orange Magazine. MJ then became editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, and contributed articles to Hudson Valley Magazine, AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. and conducts writing workshops, and as a self-proclaimed book “whisperer,” works with new writers on their books. Now back on Long Island, she continues to enjoy the opportunity to write for Woman Around Town, and the amazing adventures it offers, including reviewing concerts, events, and tourist attractions in New York, and around the world. “I particularly enjoy drawing attention to the off the beaten path kinds of events and experiences,” she says. “It’s great big world out there, with so many talented and creative artists, doers, and thinkers.”