I attended the 2nd Annual Gilmore Girls Fan Festival in Kent, Connecticut (Oct 20-22). As a die-hard fan of the series, I was so excited to attend a festival that celebrated everything Gilmore, and I was intrigued about being in a town that was a real-life depiction of Stars Hollow. Without really having any expectations of the festival, here is what I loved and here is what I thought was a bit of a miss.
By Rachel Naud
The Town. Roaming around picturesque Kent, Connecticut, I could easily picture Lorelai and Rory popping into the quaint So Delicious bakery for cake, getting a caffeine fix at the Kent Coffee and Chocolate Factory or grabbing a burger and fries at The Villager Restaurant. The quaint town was absolutely adorable, only made more stunning by the backdrop of colourful fall foliage. The locals were friendly and a bit quirky, including a lovely older woman who stopped us a couple of times to ask if we were having fun at the festival. She could have easily been a real-life Fran Weston.
The Coffee Monologues. Hands-down, this event hosted by famed TV producer, director and screenwriter, Stan Zimmerman was one of my favourites. Within the quick 45-minute event, Aris Alvardo (Caesar), Sam Pancake (Donald) and George Bell (the professor and also a dialogue coach on the show) read famous scenes from the series, originally spoken by characters, Lorelai, Rory and Emily. The audience roared with laughter hearing Alvardo’s rendition of the Rory speech after she had sex with Dean….
“It’s awful for you to find out like this, I know, but everything’s okay. I’m okay, and we were, you know, safe – so all those Trojan Man jokes all these years really apparently stuck.”
But what was even better? Watching the masterful George Bell morph into Emily Gilmore in the episode where she throws down with Shira Huntzberger.
“You were a two-bit gold digger, fresh off the bus from Hicksville when you met Mitchum at whatever bar you happened to stumble into. And what made Mitchum decide to choose you to marry amongst the pack of women he was bedding at the time, I’ll never know. But hats off to you for bagging him. He’s still a playboy, you know? Well, of course you know. That would explain why your weight goes up and down 30 pounds every other month…”
But what was THE BEST part about this speech? Hearing the roar of laughter coming from Liz Torres (Miss Patty) as she sat in the audience, sitting alongside Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim). It was the Best. Ever.
The Personal Moments. Emma Herrmann, youngest daughter of the late Edward Herrmann (Richard Gilmore), is a film student and shared a personal documentary she created called “Traveling,” which was an artful depiction of Ed’s life. Edward Herrmann had an undeniable powerful presence, even in a home movie that saw him singing with his family while he sharpened his carving knives in preparation for Christmas dinner. It was a moment that brought Star, his second wife, to tears in between moments when she excitedly shouted facts to the audience about what they were seeing on screen, “That’s his stuff!” “That’s his study!” What slightly soured this event, however, was the plea to donate money to a Go Fund Me account so Emma could produce her senior thesis film. It seemed a little tasteless after fans had just had their heartstrings pulled after getting an inside glimpse of the life of a man they had grown to know and love as Richard Gilmore.
The Cast Panels. Liz Torres (Miss Patty) singing “Yesterday,” Tanc Sade (Finn) flirting with the audience, Emily Kuroda (Mrs. Kim) tearing up after an audience member’s comment about the importance of seeing strong Asian women on TV, were just a sampling of the outstanding moments that happened during the cast panel. The two-hour event, complete with funny anecdotes and personal stories, flew by all too quickly. And the most memorable moment of all—a FaceTime call from the one and only, Lauren Graham! As she wiped away her own tears, growing emotional from the thunderous applause of the 1,500 fans in attendance, the excitement and emotion in the big tent that night was palpable. It was an unforgettable moment.
The Lack Of Swag. Ok, here’s my beef with the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest. I was basically begging them to take my money. I was dying to spend money I didn’t have on Luke’s coffee cups, fun T-shirts with quotes from our favourite residents of Stars Hollow, or, hey, even a Paul Anka-inspired dog leash. I would have BOUGHT THEM ALL. I’m not sure why there wasn’t souvenirs for sale but hopefully next year there will be a pop-up Doose’s Market or Luke’s Diner where fans can share a cup of coffee and shop for an item that will remind them of the time they spent three days in Stars Hollow.
All in all, the Gilmore Girls Fan Festival was one for the memory bank. The gracious cast members, the idyllic setting and entertaining events made the long trek to Connecticut worth every mile. Because no matter where the fans came from—as far as Australia, California and Canada—what united them was the love for a show based on a simple story about a mother and her daughter. And, even though we don’t know if there are more episodes to come (Please, Amy Sherman Palladino!) for three whole days, at least we all got a chance to come home to Stars Hollow.
Where to stay:
Just a 20-minute drive from Kent, The Litchfield Inn is a boutique property that’s the perfect combination of grandeur and quaint. The spacious rooms, complete with four-poster comfy bed, electric fireplace and clawfoot tub is welcoming after a day of exploring Connecticut.
Located in Warren, CT, The Hopkins Inn is a 19th century country inn overlooking the picturesque Lake Waramaug. It is home to a bustling restaurant where diners can soak in the scenery overlooking the Berkshire Foothills while indulging in fine contemporary Austrian cuisine. Guest rooms are simple, yet inviting. But call beforehand, as some rooms don’t have their own private bathrooms.